NRG: Navajo Artists

Navajo ArtistFor more than 300 years, the Navajo have created great works of art on their distinctive, upright looms. For many generations, Navajo artists specialized in making gorgeous, wearable blankets. These amazing blankets were often adorned with stripes or bands of color; when the wearer wrapped the blanket around him or herself, the bands would connect, creating one beautifully continuous line.

In the late 1800s, manufacturing companies like Pendleton began making blankets on machines. These blankets weren't works of art, but they were inexpensive and could be made quickly. The demand for blankets hand-woven by Navajo artists decreased sharply. In response to this change in their economy, Navajo textile artists concentrated their talents on weaving rugs.

To this day, Navajo artists handcraft colorful, durable rugs which collectors treasure as family heirlooms. The Navajo tribe is the only Native American tribe that still produces a significant amount of this traditional weaving. The Navajo Indian Reservation, where many of the artists live, is quite remarkable. The Reservation is the largest in the United States, occupying land in three states (including the whole of north eastern Arizona!).  Pictured below is Kathy Marianito, one of the most talented Navajo Master Weavers of today.......... at her loom.

master weaver at the loom

The repopulation of the Navajo Indian Reservation with Navajo-Churro sheep is one of the most exciting Navajo weaving developments in recent decades. The Spanish brought Churro sheep to the Americas in the 1500s; when the Navajo began weaving in the early 1700s, they relied heavily on this wonderful breed of sheep with its marvelous, distinctive wool. owner Steve Getzillwer and other enthusiasts and breeders have helped resuscitate this formerly scarce breed. With these exciting changes, your rug can represent a true piece of Native American culture.

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