Textiles: Navajo Textiles


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Navajo textiles rank among the most widely collected and celebrated Native American art forms. Their strong geometric patterns are instantly recognizable, even to those with little knowledge of Southwestern art. Originally, weavers made textiles to use as clothing and saddle blankets. With the emergence of a market in the late nineteenth century, weavers directed their efforts toward making rugs for sale. Today, the tradition remains strong, and textiles play a major role in the Navajo Nation's economy.

The majority of the textiles we offer date to before World War II. They were woven on vertical looms, often using handspun, hand-dyed yarns, and occasionally using commercial yarns of the period. Our collection often includes floor rugs, blankets made to be worn, and small pieces that are suitable as wall hangings.

A useful way of remembering which is warp and which is weft is: 'one of them goes from weft to wight'.

Warp and Weft: In weaving, the weft is the term for the yarn, which is drawn through, inserted over-and-under, the lengthwise warp yarns that are held in tension on a frame or loom to create cloth. Warp is the lengthwise or longitudinal thread in a roll, while weft is the transverse thread. The weft is a thread usually made of spun fiber. The original fibers used were wool or cotton. Because the weft does not have to be stretched on a loom in the way that the warp is, it can generally be less strong. The weft is threaded through the warp using a "shuttle." -Wikipedia

Navajo Weaving Tradition from ATADA.org on Vimeo.

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