Published on September 6, 2011 by Amy
Every since the Navajo Indians acquired the Churro sheep from the Spanish, sheep tending and weaving have been an integral part of Navajo culture. Beautiful, intricate patterns are the hallmark of Navajo rugs; but how can you tell if the rug you want to purchase was really made by a Navajo weaver, and how can you find a traditional artisan?
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In accordance with Navajo culture, most of these natives believe that weaving itself is a mixture of the spiritual and natural world, passed down to them from Spider Woman, a Navajo emergence deity. Such a gift is not to be taken lightly, and most professional weavers see rug creation as a way to connect with the spiritual world in addition to using their talent to create lucrative artwork.
And lucrative it is Authentic Navajo rugs take a very long time to weave, and are made of high quality sheep wool. These rugs sell for thousands of dollars and are meant to become family heirlooms, not winter covers. No two Navajo rugs are alike; however, there are certain geographic regions that produce signature styles, like the Two Grey Hills area in northwestern New Mexico and the Teec Nos Pas variety in northeastern Arizona. The complete uniqueness of each Navajo rug adds to the beauty of the pieceand the price tag, as well!
If you are in the market for a Navajo rug, the only way to truly be sure of its authenticity is to travel to a dealer on the reservation, or a dealer near the reservation who is reputable and who can tell you exactly who the weaver is. Rugs bought long distance are difficult to authenticate, which is important for you if you are looking to both support a local artisan and make an investment in art. If these ideals are not of great concern, then a rug purchased from a department store that simply references Navajo artwork may be work just as well!