Early 20th Century Crystal Trading Post Navajo Rug [SOLD]


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Once Known Native American Weaver

The Evolution of Navajo Textiles: A Journey from Blankets to Rugs

The period between 1890 and 1920 marked a significant shift in Navajo textile artistry, often referred to as the "transitional" era. This phase encapsulates the evolution from Navajo blankets to Navajo rugs, with the early stages of this transition characterized by rug designs that strongly echoed the patterns and styles of blankets. One of the most striking similarities was the absence of a border, a feature traditionally not found on blankets.

The suggestion to incorporate a border, proposed by Indian traders, was intended to enhance the rug's resemblance to Persian rugs, thereby increasing its marketability. However, this idea was generally met with resistance from the weavers. They believed in preserving a path of escape for their creative talent, a belief mirrored in the design of Navajo baskets, which always include an escape line. To compromise, early weavers introduced a "weaver's pathway" or line break in the border, akin to the escape line in baskets. This practice, however, gradually faded over the decades.

One particular Navajo rug from this era stands out. It was crafted from native wool sourced from white and brown sheep, with no dyes used. The background field showcases a stunning blend of white and brown wool, carded together to create a visually appealing salt and pepper finish. The interior design, on the other hand, features carded wool in a more consistent light brown shade.

Interestingly, this rug could be interpreted as having a double border. The outline of the inner design serves as one border, while the stepped design closer to the rug's edges forms another. This rug, with its extraordinary design, colors, and weaving techniques, is a testament to the exquisite craftsmanship of the period. It is believed to have been created between 1910 and 1920, marking it as a remarkable artifact from the transitional era of Navajo textiles.

Condition: very good condition for its age. It has just been professionally washed. There is some minor breakage in the end selvedge cords.

Provenance: this Early 20th Century Crystal Trading Post Navajo Rug is from the collection of a client from Virginia

Recommended Reading: One Hundred Years of Navajo Rugs by Marian E. Rodee

TAGS: textilesNavajo NationMary Kessie, Navajo Weaver

Once Known Native American Weaver
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