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Navajo Rugs | Native American Rugs | History, Care and Value

Posted By PowWows.com May 11th, 2020 Last Updated on: August 6th, 2022

Everything You Need to Know About Navajo Rugs

Navajo rugs started rolling out around 500 years, but they've only just recently made their way into homes all over the world. What makes these rugs so unique and sought after? This guide will go over the history of Navajo rugs, the emergence of Navajo textiles, the role of the Pueblo people, where to buy Navajo rugs, and how to care for them.

History of Navajo Rugs

The Navajo are one of the largest Native American tribes in the United States. Around 500 years ago, they made their home in the American Southwest. There, they developed a vibrant culture, complete with its own language, belief system, and lifestyle. One of their most significant impressions on modern society has been their rugs.

Weaving rugs and blankets has always been a major part of the Navajo culture. While it is not entirely known where they learned to weave, they ended up becoming the most skilled out of all the Native American tribes. The vivid geometric designs on highly-durable fabrics were renowned throughout the Southwest.



The Pueblo people are thought to have introduced weaving to the Navajo, or at least a new way to weave using a vertical loom. Thanks to this new loom, as well as raising their own unique sheep called the Navajo-Churro Sheep, they were able to begin weaving long, smooth, and durable fibers to make rugs and blankets. These became the earliest versions of what are now known as Navajo textiles.

At the turn of the 20th century, there was growing interest in the rest of the world for all things Native American. Tourists from the rest of America, and beyond, would come to the Southwest in search of authentic souvenirs. The exotic designs caught on and remain popular to this day. Over the course of the 20th century, various types of designs sprang up, providing added variety to authentic Navajo rugs, which became widely admired.


Navajo and Native Rug Designs

Rugs made in the Navajo style are named for what region they originate from, or what influenced them. The following are the authentic Navajo weavings you will come across:

Crystal Rugs

These rugs do not have a border on them. They feature horizontal bands and are made using natural vegetable dyes. The stripes also usually include added design elements, including arrows, stars, triangles, and diamonds.

Teec Nos Pos

Named after a Navajo settlement in northeastern Arizona, this rug design features a wide border, along with intricate geometric patterns. The colors are vibrant in Teec Nos Pos rugs and display feather and arrow designs within the center of them.

Two Grey Hills

This rug design comes from a trading post called Two Grey Hills. They are high-quality and have intricate Native American patterns. The rugs are made using natural wool that is undyed. There are “spirit lines” that act as accents around the borders of these rugs.



Chief Weaving

The final type of Navajo rug design is one that was offered to Navajo chiefs. These were made using the highest quality threads available. The patterns are durable and simple. Blue, white, and brown are all prominent on these authentic Navajo weavings.


Where to Buy Navajo Rugs and Native American Rugs

Once you are ready to have a Navajo rug of your own, you will want to know where to buy Native rugs. In order to receive a quality and authentic Navajo rug, you should seek out more reputable dealers. You will know you have found one when they are dedicated to answering any questions you may have. They will be direct and transparent with their answers. Also, they will have no issue providing you with a guarantee of authenticity to make sure you are getting a genuine rug.


Value of Navajo and Other Native Rugs

The purchase price of a Navajo rug will depend on a few factors, such as how large it is, how old it is, how tight the weaving is, the style, what dyes were used, and what condition it is in. Navajo rugs can range anywhere from $100 for a small one, to several thousand dollars for a large and old one.

When it comes to size, the larger the rug is, the longer it takes to weave. This will increase the price, the larger the rug is. The largest rugs can take up to three years to make. Given the extra hours put into making it, it will cost significantly more than a more common 4'x6′ rug.

Antique rugs will cost more than modern ones, given their value has risen as a result of their rarity. However, even contemporary Navajo rugs can fetch upwards of several thousand dollars. This is because the number of Navajo weavers is diminishing every year. There is a great deal of time and discipline needed to create a rug.


How to Care for Navajo Rugs

Taking care of your Navajo rug will ensure that it can maintain its vibrant colors and stay in great shape for a long time. Here are some tips for caring for your Native rug.

  • Instead of cleaning it in a washing machine, use a steam cleaner or iron.
  • Turn or rotate the threads occasionally.
  • Avoid using wide vacuum attachments to vacuum the rug.
  • Avoid beating the rug with a beater bar.
  • Avoid placing the rug in direct sunlight for long periods of time.

There are special cleaners for wool rugs that you can use to get rid of minor stains. When you follow these guidelines, you should have no little to no issues keeping your rug pristine.


Make Navajo Rugs a Part of Your Life

Navajo rugs are unique and beautiful high-quality rugs with a rich history. It's no wonder that they have become so popular within the past century. You can now enjoy the beauty of a Navajo rug as well, by buying one, as mentioned earlier. These rugs are ideal for decorating your home and bringing some authentic Navajo culture into your life.

Given the popularity of Navajo rugs today, there are plenty to choose from, no matter what your budget. Enjoy these unique and highly-prized Native rugs just as others have over the course of their 500-year existence.


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mary

I have two Navajo rugs from Crownpoint, New Mex rug auction that are over 50 years old. Both with original tags from auction never removed. They are in excellent shape and color small to medium. What would they be worth?

Dorothy

I have four or five large Navajo rugs that’s been in my family for at least 70 years I’ve been assured that they are all original dye before they started buying their dye. How do I find out their worth? I live in Utah and actually worked with Navajo’s and none of them could help in finding someone that would know.

Dianne Herron

I have a older 1980s genuine Navajo rug ,thinking a out selling,how do I start?

Adrian McKee

Are there any pictures of to gray hills Blankets? I think I saw 11 time and it was so beautiful I almost cried. You could feel the land And the weaver. The value lies So much in the heart of the owner. The money only matters if you can’t afford to buy one! The value in it is so far beyond money. Thank you for sharing these and The snowing.

Crystal Clark

Hi I just moved into our new home and I think I have found a old Navaho rug. I would love to get some information on it. Like , how old it is? What kind it is? What its worth? And where do i go to sell it? Please if you know anything email me at crystaldawn2316@gmail.com
And ill send you pictures

Shannon Baltrusch

Hello I have two Navajo rugs/horse blankets To be honest I’m not sure as to which. I’m trying to get a value to possibly sell. They both are quite old and do have some fraying. Any suggestions as to someone who could help me? Thank you

tom markham

I just watched Ms Agustinez’ telling about Navajo rugs, and am wondering where I can turn for some information.
I have owned four rugs since the early 1950’s, which my parents bought from a travelling trader in Wyoming.
We knew them as Two Grey Hills, Chin Li, Teec Nos Pos, and a fourth one whose tribe we never knew. Is there a place where I can send pictures for a rough evaluation?
If so, please reply by email. I always lose URLs.
TIA tom

NJA

The Adopt an Elder organization is having a Virtual Rug Show this year and you can buy the rugs online too.
https://www.anelder.org/Buy-a-Navajo-Rug

LENORE C BOWNE

Can I take a picture of my rug and send it to you? I would like to know more about it – I have had it for almost fifty years but have no idea of its value.

Thank you.

Coastie

I have not encountered a nice rug I can afford. But I admire them for the spirit of the weaver that goes into each one. Unique and historic all

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