In many ways, the story of Navajo rugs is intertwined with the story of Native American blankets. Weaving among Native Americans first began with the Pueblo people more than 1,000 years ago. Between approximately 1050 and 1300, they produced a wide array of blankets using vertical looms. Cotton was the material of choice, but in the 1500s, the Spanish brought churro sheep to America and forced the Puebloans to weave with wool.

After a Pueblo uprising drove the Spaniards out around 1680, the Spaniards returned in greater numbers in 1692. Their brutality prompted many Pueblo people to take refuge with the Navajo. Thanks to this mingling of cultures, the Navajo learned wool weaving from the Pueblo people. Navajo textiles soon become respected and well known for their quality and artistry.

By the late 19th century, the preferences of white tourists dictated what Native American weavers produced. For example, weavers noticed that many Navajo blanket owners were simply putting their blankets on the floor and using them as rugs. With this in mind, Navajo weavers began making rugs in addition to blankets, using a heavier type of weaving and abandoning stripes for borders. Abstract designs gave way to pictorials like cowboys and horses.

Similarly, blanket customers began using their purchases for decoration rather than on bedding, so many weavers switched from homespun fiber to inferior but cheaper prefabricated yarn. With the adoption of Germantown fibers and aniline dyes, the palette of available colors exploded, and Navajo blankets suddenly became extremely multi-colored.

Even as Native Americans were evolving what they produced to better appeal to the tourist trade, less-expensive manufactured fabrics were pushing their products aside. But in the 1920s, Navajo weaving enjoyed a renewed level of attention that continues to this day.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

First American Art

First American Art

The companion website to First American Art: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection of American Indian Art, which… [read review or visit site]

LACMA Luxury Textiles

LACMA Luxury Textiles

Textile collectors shouldn't miss this microsite from the LA County Museum of Art, a great reference on European an… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

Ca1920 Ganado Hubbell Cross Navajo Rug Native American Indian Blanket RanchfolksLarge Antique Navajo Navaho Indian Rug/weaving...crosses & Compass Design...nrLarge Antique Circa-1900 Native American Western Navajo Indian Wool Rug, NrVintage Rug Saddle Blanket Weaving Navajo Folk Textile Tribal Two Grey HillsVintage Rug Saddle Blanket Weaving Navajo Folk Textile Tribal Storm PatternVintage Yei Rug Saddle Blanket Weaving Navajo Folk Art Textile Tribal PictorialNavajo Native American Indian Rug Blanket Textile Weaving ~ Ganado Rose PoppyOld Navajo Storm Pattern RugVintage Yei Rug Saddle Blanket Weaving Navajo Folk Art Textile Tribal PictorialGreat Old Navajo Rug--nr!Great Old Navajo Runner Rug--nr!Red Mesa Dbl Saddle Blanket Navajo Rug Native American Indian Textile RanchfolksVintage Navajo Rug Weaving Orange Black Diamond Pattern Wow Old Crystal RegionFancy Navajo Saddle Blanket With Cornstalks And Germantown YarnsRare 3 Yei Navajo Rug Weaving Cornstalks Brown Orange Red Colors Old CrystalEarly Navaho Navajo Indian Rug/weaving/runner...serrate Vintage Navajo Indian Rug / Saddle Blanket Navajo Indian Rug, Gallup StyleVintage Navajo Miniature Doll House Rug 4 5/8 X 3 1/8 InchesYei Gallup Throw Navajo Rug Native American Indian Blanket Navaho RanchfolksYei Rug Navajo Native American Vintage Tapestry Weaving From Chinle ArizonaNavajo Rug ~ Two Grey Hills Variant ~ Ca. 1950's Hand Spun, Wool Warp Nice RedsCirc1920 Churro Pictorial Navajo Rug 41x28 Native American Blanket Ranchfolks NrVintage 1940s Authentic Native American Navajo Weaving Rug Blanket GeometricVintage Mexican Blanket-heavy Cotton-60" X 88"Nice Vintage 1960s Navajo Indian RugNavajo Indian Native American Horse Blanket Rug 80x36 Wool Antique Navajo Native American Blanket Rug Tapestry TextileVintage Hand Loomed Wool Navajo Horse Saddle BlanketVintage Navajo Plant Dye Source Chart Rug Sampler Navajo Indian Rug Wool Antique Native American Indian White Navajo Blanket Navajo Rug Wall HangingVintage Navajo Tree Of Life Rug Or Wall Hanging With Birds 30" X 60"Early Transitional Navajo Twill Weave Saddle BlanketTrading Post Vintage Navajo Native American Indian Weaving Blanket Rug 34x43 Authentic Excellent Antique Navajo Rug Weaver's Comb 10 1/2" X 2"wBeautiful Native American Hand Made Reversible Wool BlanketNavajo Weaver Doll (native American Indian) Wood Loom With RugNavajo Indian Designed 20 "by 38 1/2"" Storm Pattern Style Wool Rug!!gorgeous!Navajo Yei Rug Great ColorsVtg Wool Native American Rug Hand Woven 36" X 22"Vintage Small Tabletop Navajo Rug Wool Fringe