NRG: Why buy Navajo Textiles?
Master weaver Ellen Smith demonstrates The Fine Art of Navajo Weaving. She is featured on the book by the same name, written by Steve Getzwiller with photographs by Ray Manley. The book has been to the go-to guide for collectors and aficionados across the world of Navajo Textiles. When it comes to Navajo Textiles. We call it Navajo Weaving 101.
For 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.
What makes a Navajo rug a work of art? What differentiates a Navajo rug from the kind of rug you might purchase at an ordinary carpeting or area rug store? First and foremost, the differences between a rug made on a machine and one woven by hand cannot be overstated. Classic or contemporary, Navajo weavings will last through many years of use, as opposed to a machine made rug. We have some rugs that are already 100 years old and still have a long life ahead of them, and a value that lives on as well.
The average four foot by six foot rug takes two to three months to weave. More intricate designs take five to six months to weave. Some of the large rugs we sell take more than a year to weave! The passion and painstaking care that go into making Navajo weavings is extraordinary, and make the end product well worth the time invested. We work with the finest Navajo weavers which means you can be assured that your weaving is of the highest quality in workmanship, design, and wool.
The rugs we sell are created on traditional Navajo looms. Only the Navajo use this distinctive upright loom. It's the same style of loom that the Navajo have used since the early 1700s, making your original rug a part of Navajo history. The unique loom, combined with the weaver's skill, creates rugs, blankets, and wall hangings that will last beyond your lifetime and can be passed down to your children and your children's children, continuing the artistic legacy of the Navajo people.
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. Navajorug.com owner Steve Getzwiller 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.