May 11th, 2020 Last Updated on: July 6th, 2021
Everything You Need to Know About Navajo Rugs
Navajo rugs have been made for nearly 500 years, but they have 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 vibrant designs, where to buy them, and how to care for them.
History of Navajo Rugs
The Navajo are one of the largest recognized Native American tribes within the United States. Around 500 years ago, they made their home 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 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 Amerian tribes. The vivid geometric patterns on highly-durable fabrics were renown throughout the Southwest.
The Pueblo tribe is 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, they were able to begin weaving long, smooth, and durable fibers to make rugs.
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 Navajo rugs, which became widely admired.
Navajo Rug Designs
Rugs made in the Navajo style are named for what region they originate from, or what influenced them. The following are the Navajo rug designs you will come across:
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 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.
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 Chief weavings.
Where to Buy Navajo Rugs
Once you are ready to have a Navajo rug of your own, you will want to know where to buy one. 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 Rugs
The value 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 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 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.
With them being highly popular today, there are plenty to choose from, no matter what your budget. Enjoy these unique and highly-prized rugs just as others have over the course of their 500-year existence.
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