Thursday, February 19, 2009

Southwestern Decorating With Navajo Rugs

Navajo rugs have been a highly sought after textile for over 150 years. The Navajo originally were thought to have learned the art of weaving from other Pueblo Indian tribes of the four corners area of the United states. They started out weaving textiles for clothing such as shoulder robes, wrap around dresses, breech cloths, shirts and accessories such as belts, hair ties, sashes and garters. At the end of the 19th century, the Navajo began weaving rugs to export commercially and they have been an important source of income ever since.

Typical Navajo rugs have strong geometric patterns. Original coloration consisted of natural brown, white and indigo. After the mid 19th century, more colors were added including red , black, green, yellow and gray. A plant known as rabbit brush, an indigenous source for yellow dye, was used to create bright green colors when mixed with indigo, which was usually traded for. Red dye was locally difficult to find, but one source used by the Navajo came from an insect called cochineal, which is native to South America and Mexico. Black dye was obtained through pinon pitch and ashes.

Originally, Navajo rugs and blankets were made from hand-spun cotton thread. After the Spanish introduced domesticated sheep to the region, wool became the fabric of choice. Traditional weaving methods include the use of an upright wooden loom that the weaver sits or kneels in front of. Colored threads are woven together to form large scale geometric patterns, with the finished portion of the rug wrapped underneath the loom as it grows.

Navajo rugs have become one of the most popular forms of Native textile art in America and are sought after worldwide. Their bright, vivid colors and striking geometric designs make them a favorite decorative accessory for Southwestern style homes.


Nick said...

I’m looking for a new look for my bedroom. I’m thinking maybe of going for a southwestern theme but I’m not sure where to look. Anyone have any ideas?

mtrant said...

Hey Nick, check out this site for some ideas:

Olivia said...

Love this! My husband and I love visiting the West. I'm in the process of decorating my bedroom and bathroom with Native American and Western flair! I have a lot of authentic artifacts just sitting in boxes. I can't wait to use them. I look forward to your posts. I'll follow!