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Navajo Rugs & Weavings

You can purchase authentic Navajo Rugs & Weavings from Toadlena Trading Post by choosing the price range below.

The roots of Navajo weaving are buried deep within the heart of the American Southwest.
They took hold around 1000 years ago when ancient farmers called the “Anasazi” wove on very primitive upright looms. Their descendants, today's Pueblo Indians, grew their own cotton and further refined the weaving techniques passed down by their ancestors. Then came the Spanish settlers in the 17th century, introducing the Pueblo Indians to wool from the churro sheep they brought with them.

The nomadic Navajos arrived from the North and learned the weaving techniques from the Pueblo Indians. They eventually settled in “Navajoland,” later known as the Navajo Reservation and learned to farm and raise sheep of their own.

The weaving tradition continued to pass down from grandmother to mother to daughter.

Navajo weaving is really a blend of these ingredients: the upright loom of the Anasazi, the weaving techniques of the Pueblo people and the wool from the Spanish. This recipe makes the most spectacular rugs and tapestries that have been coveted by collectors for more than a century.

The early traders knew their market.
When the Southwest territories became part of the United States around 1868, the early fur trappers traded red cloth to the Navajo for access to their land. The Navajo coveted the red cloth, called bayeta, because they could not create the color on their own. They unraveled the bayeta and wove the threads into the native wearing blankets.

Permanent trading posts sprouted around the reservation and soon followed the machine loomed Indian trade blankets from manufactures like Pendleton. Inspired by Navajo designs, these blankets were beautiful, readily accessible and a fraction of the cost of the hand woven Navajo textiles. Both the white man and the Navajo preferred them as wearing garments and blankets.

The settlers were now tossing the Navajo hand woven wearing blankets on the floor to use as rugs. Savvy traders saw a new market for the Navajo and encouraged them to weave heavier textiles that incorporated borders as design elements around the edges.

Regional design is born.
Demand for Navajo rugs increased, bringing higher prices. By 1900 the traders and weavers were working together to develop marketable textiles that appealed to the white man.

Thirteen regional designs within seven weaving districts emerged inside the Navajo Nation, each named for its trading post. These districts included Teec Nos Pos, Pictorial, Two Grey Hills, Crystal, Wide Ruins, Ganado-Klagetoh and Storm Pattern.

Each district offered spectacular textiles, while focusing on different styles, designs and colors, influenced by the traders.

The Ganado rugs are known for their heavy use of red yarn, black borders and abundance of crosses, diamonds and stars—elements that were encouraged by the local trader, Lorenzo Hubbell. The rugs from the Teec Nos Pos district feature complex designs of many colors, usually woven with commercially spun and dyed yarns. Strong outlines and diagonals are reminiscent of the Oriental influence that came through the traders in that area.

The ultimate Navajo textile.
But it is the Two Grey Hills from Toadlena that is the most coveted Navajo textile today. Why? Technically, it is far superior because it possesses more wefts to the linear inch, resulting in a finer weave.

A typical Navajo rug has approximately 30 wefts to the linear inch. A Two Grey Hills from Toadlena has an average of 40–50. In fact, a special “tapestry” section was created at the Gallup Ceremonials 50 years ago for Toadlena weaver Daisy Taugelchee (1909–1990), who wove upwards of 115 wefts per inch.

Toadlena and Two Grey Hills traders Bloomfield and Davies encouraged the weavers of Toadlena to weave finer, to create more intricate designs and to use only hand spun native wool in the natural colors of the sheep. As such, the textiles are intricate geometric designs in variations of black, brown, gray, beige and cream.

Today, the ancestors of those who worked with Bloomfield and Davies now work closely with Toadlena's current trader, Mark Winter. And they're winning many top awards around the nation.