Navajo Rugs

Native Americans are known for their wonderful hand crafted products. They make beautiful jewelry and hand woven rugs. Many Native American products come from the Navajo reservation. The Navajo reservation is the largest Native American reservation in the United States and covers portions of four states in the southwest. Navajo rugs are wonderful works of art that have been made for over 300 years and will be made for generations to come.

The Navajo reservation is divided up into smaller communities. Throughout the various communities different rug patterns are found. Certain smaller communities produce certain patterns. While some rug patterns have names, like "storm pattern," others are called ceremonial rugs. These rugs aren't actually used in traditional Navajo ceremonies. The rugs don't have any religious or ceremonial meaning, but because of financial gain they have continued to be produced over the years. While only pure wool is used for authentic Navajo rugs, ones with cotton wefts are produced for tourists.

The Navajo learned the art of rug weaving from their neighbors in the Pueblo tribe. While not friendly neighbors, some of the Pueblo tribe took refuge with the Navajo when the Spanish arrived. The Pueblo tribe had been weaving rugs for hundreds of years before the Spanish arrived, but it was the Spanish who first introduced sheep into the Southwest. The Navajo tribe traditionally used large stand up looms with no moving parts to weave rugs and the rugs were not only used to adorn the floor, but also hung as doors to their homes.

Navajo rugs are some of the most recognized southwestern rugs in the United States. Including the process to ready the wool for weaving, it can take months to complete one rug. Traditionally, the rugs were made mostly neutral using colors like brown white and indigo. By the mid nineteenth century, the color palette expanded to include red, black, green, yellow, and grey. Red was the hardest color to obtain locally, but by the end of the nineteenth century railroads brought in a vast array of colors. The rugs become full of color and made in beautiful patterns. Its taken centuries to perfect the art the Navajo tribe takes such pride in and the rugs are sure to continue to be woven for years to come.

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