Crystal Trading Post Bordered Navajo Rug

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Artist Unknown
  • Category: Navajo Textiles and Blankets
  • Origin: Diné - Navajo Nation
  • Medium: wool
  • Size: 2’8” x 4’8”
  • Item # 25788
  • Price: $2,500.00

Close up view

The Spaniards bred two kinds of sheep, the churro and merino.  Churro sheep were well adapted to sparse countryside and the merino was the finest sheep in the world, so fine it was reserved for the royal family and the nobility and its export from Spain was punishable by death.  Based on this, it is obvious that the Spaniards brought churro sheep to the American Southwest and left the merino sheep for royalty.  They adapted well to the southwest which had a climate similar to Spain.

 

Churro sheep produced fine, long-stapled wool which was well suited to the Navajo hand-spindle. The Navajo acquired their churro sheep by raids on Spanish rancheros and Pueblo Indian farms.  They lost all their sheep during their forced relocation and containment at Bosque Redondo in the 1860s.  After Bosque Redondo, the government allotted $30,000 to re-stock sheep for the Navajo as they returned to their homeland. The replacement sheep were churro as well.

 

The federal government instituted a program around 1900 to improve the Navajo flocks in which they imported Rambouillet sheep which were descendants of merinos given by the Spanish crown to France who cross bred them with French sheep.  The result were sheep with good meat and heavy fleece but with oily wool that was short and curly, not necessarily good for weaving.  By the 1920s, the Rambouillet sheep had interbred with the Navajo churro sheep and the mixed-breed wool is what is most evident in rugs of the 1920s-1940s.

 

This rug is a typical good quality textile from the 1920s.  It has the hallmarks of rugs from Crystal Trading Postblack and white border, serrated diamonds in the center, and a colorful field which is salmon in color with plum-color stepped-pattern bands.

 

Condition: the rug has just been washed and blocked, and had broken warps on one end repaired.  It is now in excellent condition and ready for use.

Recommended Reading

- Old Navajo Rugs: Their Development from 1900 to 1940 by Marian E. Rodee

One Hundred Years of Navajo Rugs by Marian E. Rodee.  This history of Navajo weaving is a revised, expanded, and updated version of Marian Rodee's 1981 classic book Old Navajo Rugs: Their Development from 1900 to 1940.

Provenance: from the estate of Harold and Hilda Street, descended through the family.

Close up view

Artist Unknown
  • Category: Navajo Textiles and Blankets
  • Origin: Diné - Navajo Nation
  • Medium: wool
  • Size: 2’8” x 4’8”
  • Item # 25788
  • Price: $2,500.00

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