28 Mar Navajo Rugs
The Navajo rug is one of the most recognized and sought after forms of Southwestern art. With their bold geometric designs and durable structures, Navajo rugs are timeless fixtures suitable for almost any space.
Anthropologists believe that the Navajo people first migrated to the Southwest from Canada between 1300 and 1500. They probably picked up rug weaving from their nearby neighbors and frequent enemies the Pueblo Indians who had been importing cotton from Mexico to make rugs since the 9th century. With the arrival of Spanish settlers in the Southwest, many Pueblo groups were forced to flee into Navajo territory and brought their centuries worth of weaving knowledge straight into the Navajo heartland. The Spanish were also instrumental to the Navajo rug for introducing the Churro sheep to the Americas. This new species of sheep produced an easy-to-spin wool that was more durable than traditional cotton.
After the Santa Fe Trail opened in 1822, traders began trickling into Navajo lands and purchasing the woven blankets to sell back East. It wasn’t until railroads reached Navajo lands in the 1880s, however, that Navajo textiles became a true boom business. Navajo rugs began to be featured in catalogs and influential traders demanded certain styles that would appeal to white audiences.
Today an authentic Navajo rug is an expensive commodity selling for well over $900 in many cases. Machine-made copies can be purchased for less but they often lack the durability of originals.
With proper care, a true Navajo rug will literally last a lifetime. Navajo rugs are best cleaned with a vacuum but should never be washed like other area rugs. If your rug needs a thorough wash, it’s imperative that you find an experienced Navajo rug cleaning technician. Just rinsing a Navajo rug in water will fade color and reduce a valuable artwork to little worth.