Navajo Rug designs and patterns
Navajo Rug Designs and Patterns
Centuries before there were Dazzlers, Teec Nos Pos, and Burntwater, the first rug ever created is said to have been created by Spider Woman using the sun’s rays and earth cords. And while she provided the framework for the now traditional Navajo weaver, they are always looking to weave their historic culture with each new thread.
Along Came a Spider
Nearly all the older historic blankets, prior to 1900, featured the symbols and designs most associated with the “teachings” Spider Woman bestowed upon the first weavers. These patterns came through in early blankets and rugs as a cross; a stylized cross that was a symbol for Spider Woman.
A Journey Beyond
Early weavings expanded the design elements to include linear patterns and diamonds. The diamond was a design element borrowed from the early Saltillo Hispanic Textiles.
The diamonds became one of the most incorporated elements across the entire genre and is still the backbone of my pieces today. They’ve also been used to represent a great many iconic Navajo symbols, including feathers, songs, mountains and more.
Spirit Line Borders
The turn of the 20th century saw the rise of a now traditional elemental known as the “spirit line.” This line is essentially what we now refer to as break in the border design around a weaving. This custom, though now found in many weavings, is used by weavers who were wary of trapping a creative spirit; this is their path of escape.
Brief but Impactful
As World War II slowly began to creep in, the sacred and very old symbol to the Navajo the “whirling log”, (which represented the 4 directions, 4 sacred mountains, and all things good to the Navajo), was unfortunately compromised by the swastika sign that was growing rapidly overseas. Its use in Navajo weavings was for the most part discontinued after the war.
Colors of the Wind
Disney’s Pocahontas may be known for the “colors of the wind,” but Navajo weavers used color in their textiles to tell stories, expand creativity and better represent their culture. Though limited in early times—weavers stuck to blacks, browns, white and grays—they eventually expanded to synthetic and vegetable dyes to give them a much broader and deeper range of color. Specific colors represented the four sacred directions, seasons, and winds.