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Navajo rugs and blankets (Navajo: diyogí) are textiles produced by Navajo people of the Four Corners area of the United States. Navajo textiles are highly regarded and have been sought after as trade items for over 150 years. Commercial production of handwoven blankets and rugs has been an important element of the Navajo economy. As one expert expresses it, “Classic Navajo serapes at their finest equal the delicacy and sophistication of any pre-mechanical loom-woven textile in the world.
Navajo textiles were originally utilitarian blankets for use as cloaks, dresses, saddle blankets, and similar purposes. Toward the end of the 19th century, weavers began to make rugs for tourism and export. Typical Navajo textiles have strong geometric patterns. They are a flat tapestry–woven textile produced in a fashion similar to kilims of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, but with some notable differences. In Navajo weaving, the slit weave technique common in kilims is not used, and the warp is one continuous length of yarn, not extending beyond the weaving as fringe. Traders from the late 19th and early 20th century encouraged adoption of some kilim motifs into Navajo designs.