Archive for the ‘Navajo Rugs’ Category

Navajo Rug Resources

Friday, November 20th, 2015

One of the best things about becoming a Navajo rug afficianado has been joining the amazing community we have found that shares our love of all things Navajo rug. If you are looking for Navajo rug resources–from tips on cleaning, to preservation help, to just learning more about the art form, look no further than the list of Good Businesses and Friends on our site.Navajo rug resources

While in other industries some of these people might be considered “competitors,” this bunch has always been more about sharing Navajo rug resources and history and about celebrating successes than about fighting over sources and customers. Instead of competitors, we think of each other as fellow collectors–all driven by the same mission to promote and sustain the Navajo rug art form.

We joke that once you are bitten with the bug, there is no turning back, and because of our shared passion, this community is always willing to help one another out. Luckily, we can share some of the benefits of this community with our customers. If you have any specific questions about Navajo rug resources, we are happy to answer them, or check out the list linked above.

Authentic Contemporary Navajo Rugs

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

When people hear Navajo rugs, they often immediately get images in their minds of the Old West, replete with stage coaches and trading posts. But while there are of course still amazing rugs to be found that are 100 years old+, many people don’t realize that there is also a vibrant and evolving culture around the weaving of contemporary Navajo rugs.

What makes a Navajo rug a Navajo rug isn’t its age or necessarily its provenance. Both vintage and contemporary Navajo rugs can be “authentic” in the sense that they are woven using the materials and methods that characterize the Navajo rug art form.

How Do You Known Whether Contemporary Navajo Rugs Are Authentic?

Contemporary Navajo rugs

This is a contemporary Navajo rug woven in a traditional style with dyed churro wool

Contemporary Navajo rugs are considered authentic if they are woven of wool on an upright loom with a continuous warp thread (there are additional indications of authenticity, of course, and there are also exceptions to the rules, but these are a great indication of whether a rug is authentic).

Part of the reason that we love Navajo rugs is because they are such a unique art form–both beautiful and functional, both historic and modern. Contemporary Navajo rugs represent the continuation of this traditional art form, and we love seeing the new patterns and colors that contemporary weavers use to make the art form their own.

These rugs are truly one-of-a-kind works of art, whether they were made yesterday or 100 years ago. Take a look at the rugs on our site–whether you find a historic piece or a contemporary one, we guarantee that it will be of the highest quality and in fantastic condition.

Southwestern Christmas Decoration: Special Holiday Rugs

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

If you want a truly unique Southwestern Christmas decoration, you can’t do better than our holiday-themed Navajo Rugs. These pieces were woven by Joanne Begay, a weaver who specializes in authentic seasonal Navajo Rugs.

Southwestern christmas decoration Navajo rug

Beyond the obvious cute factor, these Southwestern Christmas decorations are made with the same authentic technique and high-quality materials as all the rugs we sell.

Southwestern Christmas decoration Navajo rug

Whether your usual holiday decor style is traditional–evergreens boughs, wreaths, and tinsel–or you want to really go all out with a Southwestern Christmas decoration theme–think light-strung cacti, cowboy boot and horseshoe ornaments, and cowhide tree skirts–these one-of-a-kind rugs will add a completely unique touch.



100 Year Old Navajo Rugs: Own a Piece of History

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Charley’s Navajo Rugs is proud to currently have eighteen 100 year old (or older) rugs in our inventory. Though these rugs are indisputably beautiful, they also remind us why were drawn to this industry in the first place–they truly evoke the spirit of the Old West.

These pieces give both serious collectors and people new to the art form a chance to own an authentic vintage Navajo rug. And lest you hear “100 year old Navajo rug” and picture a moth-eaten and fraying specimen, let us assure you that each one of these rugs is in excellent, display-quality condition. (And lest you think that a 100 year old rug must be a out of your price range, three of these rugs are actually under $600! This Germantown rug, another Germantown 3-diamond, and this Germantown runner with floating chinle stars.)

One of our most prized rugs is this mint-condition serape/child’s blanket, woven sometime between 1880 and 1890.

100 year old plus navajo rug

Germantown Serape/Child’s Blanket

Another over 100 year old Navajo rug of particular interest is this floating blanket design rug from the “transitional period”–the period between 1880 and 1910 when weavers were transitioning from weaving blankets to weaving rugs, due to market demand.

100 year old Navajo rug

Transitional Navajo Rug

This striking rug, also over 100 years old, utilizes spider-woman crosses and whirling logs in the design.

100 year old Navajo rug

Spider Woman/Whirling Logs Rug

You can find these rugs as well as others over 100 years old on our website. These pieces provide the rare opportunity to own a beautiful, excellently preserved piece of Southwest history. Please contact Charley at if you have any questions about a specific rug.

Southwestern Design Ideas: Navajo Rugs as a Statement Piece

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Traditional Southwestern design–with its bright colors, rich textures, and natural materials–is very much in keeping with current interior design trends.  So even if Southwestern design isn’t the vibe you are going for throughout your entire home, adding a Navajo rug can be a great addition and add a pop of color and interest.

Though Charley’s Navajo Rugs is a trusted source for serious collectors, we also happily work with interior designers or individuals who are looking for a single statement piece. A Navajo rug can be the perfect one-of-a-kind piece that acts as inspiration for an entire space–whether your home, your office, or a vacation residence. Southwestern design can complement a variety of different styles, from traditional to modern.

Southwestern design

Southwestern Design Elements: Navajo Blanket and Rug

Navajo rugs or other Southwestern design pieces can integrate well with the clean lines and natural materials seen in modern design. Mid-century modern furniture plus colorful rug plus plenty of greenery equals an inviting, beautiful, and fresh space.

Southwestern design ideas also work well with more traditional decor. Wooden antiques look great with Navajo rugs–the rugs can highlight the history of the complementing pieces.

So whether you have long had an interest in Southwestern design and Navajo rugs or you are just getting interested in the style, we can help you find an authentic, one-of-a-kind piece for your home. You just might find that these beautiful works of art become your favorite conversation starters.

Animals in Navajo Mythology and Artwork

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Animals have many different associations in Navajo culture and art. Many animals are associated with specific taboos, which are restrictions that are taken very seriously by many Navajos. An example of a taboo associated with animals is “Do not put a dead snake on a rock or you will cause a thunderstorm and it will come back to life.”

Because Navajo rugs often reflect beliefs and traditions in Navajo life, if you are a serious student of Navajo art, knowing some of the animals that most frequently recur in Navajo stories and artwork can be very helpful to gaining a greater understanding of the art.


Animals and Taboos

Coyote is one of the biggest figures in Navajo mythology–he is contradictory and tricky, which means he cannot be killed. He can be both humorous and frightening.

In Navajo mythology, owls, crows, mice, and coyotes were thought to have spied for witches and evil spirits, and they therefore cannot be trusted.

yeibichai dancers navajo rug eagle feathers animals

Yeibichai Dancers with Eagle Feathers

Snakes are frequently seen in Navajo artwork, but they were feared on both a mythological and practical level. Poisonous snakes posed a real threat to Navajos and their livestock, but they also represent the lightning people and have a whole host of taboos associated with them.

Bears are important in the traditional Mountain Way ceremony, but they are also associated with many taboos. There is some speculation that this is because of how eerily they can resemble a man standing on two legs.

Eagle feathers are very important to the Navajo–all other feathers are prohibited.

Now that you know some of the associations that Navajos have with wild animals, you can see if you can spot how the depictions of these animals in art reflect these meanings.


Navajo Rugs Sale: Annual October Sale on Select Rugs

Friday, October 16th, 2015

It’s that time of year again–the annual Charley’s Navajo Rugs Sale. This year, Charley is offering a special sale on select Yei, Yeibichai, and Sandpaintings rugs. Take advantage of this chance to buy beautiful, one-of-a-kind rugs at 15% to 40% OFF, only through October 31st, 2015. Quantities are extremely limited, and each piece is completely unique, so check out the offerings here and jump on this chance to own a piece of Native American history.

yei sandpainting navajo rugs sale

Detail of Yei Sandpainting Rug

Whirling Log in Navajo Rug Designs

Saturday, October 10th, 2015

There are many recognizable symbols in Navajo rug design, but one often pulls people up short when they first see it: a swastika. But in fact it is called a whirling log and upon closer review, is a an altered swastika – it is backwards.  This symbol was commonly used in the Navajo rug design, prior to the 1930’s.

storm rug with swastika

This rug was created somewhere between 1909 and 1920, so well before the Nazis had appropriated the swastika as a symbol of their ideology. It is important to remember that the swastika, which comes from the Sanskrit for “well-being,” was formerly seen as an entirely positive symbol. It was associated with the four directions or the four winds. It was popular during the Art Deco era for use on buildings, household items, and clothing. And it was also seen frequently on items owned by cowboys in the Old West as a symbol for good luck. Going even further back, it is frequently seen in Hindu and Buddhist imagery, and has been found on Mesopotamian pottery dating all the way back to 3500-4500 BCE.

The Swastika as a Navajo Symbol

In Navajo culture, the “whirling log” was originally used in sand paintings that designates direction and motion. During the early days of the Navajo rug trade, J. B. Moore and J. Lorenzo Hubbell both encouraged the use of the whirling log symbol in rugs they commissioned. Of course, after the atrocities of World War II, Navajo weavers discontinued using the whirling log pattern.

It is a shame that an ancient and positive symbol has become synonymous in Western culture with the short but brutal ascendancy of the Nazis. Hopefully in time this association will lessen. In the meantime, we can appreciate the historical pieces that utilize the whirling log for how they maintain a connection to the symbol’s positive meaning.

Source for information about swastika use in Navajo rugs: The Swastika Symbol in Navajo Textiles by Dennis J. Aigner.

ATADA: Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Charley’s Navajo Rugs is a proud member of ATADA, the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association. ATADA has been around since 1988, providing ethical and professional standards to the tribal art dealer trade and education to the public about the cultural, aesthetic, and historical importance of antique tribal art.

atada logoYou can find us on their website along with other reputable dealers of antique tribal art. You’ll find dealers for everything from pottery, to jewelry, to art. And rugs, of course. This is a fantastic resource for any consumer looking to purchase tribal art, as ATADA vouches for every vendor listed on their site.

ATADA also publishes a great quarterly newsletter that you can subscribe to in hardcopy or download in .pdf form online. If you’re interested in tribal art, we highly recommend checking it out–it’s chock-full of interesting information.

Their website also has helpful resources for dealers and collectors, including a calendar of events, information about appraisals and links to museums that showcase tribal art. ATADA also offers resources to help with theft prevention, potential legal issues related to art and information about art that has been stolen.

World’s Largest Navajo Rug

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

In 1932, Lorenzo Hubbell of the Hubbell Trading Posts in Ganado, Arizona, commissioned the Joe family–Julia, Sam, and their daughters Lilly and Erma–to weave the world’s largest Navajo rug. Sam Joe studied ancient pottery to find unique designs and symbols. Julia, Lilly, and Erma then used the wool of 78 sheep–the dying, carding, and spinning of which took two years in itself–to create the yarn for the rug. Of course, weaving the “World’s Largest Navajo Rug” required the world’s largest loom as well–Hubbell had a special building made to accommodate the 27-foot-wide loom.

After three straight years of weaving, the rug was finally completed in 1937. As is evident when you see the rug today, it was made of the finest quality yarn and with great attention to detail. The finished product is a beautiful, seamless, 26′ x 36′ rug.

Because of the rug’s size, though, storage and display are difficult. In fact, the public was deprived of the opportunity to see the World’s Largest Navajo Rug for 50 years. Fortunately, the Winslow Arts Trust acquired the rug in 2012, and it is now being put on permanent display at the La Posada Hotel historic train depot (located along the old Route 66).

world's largest navajo rug

The rug on display at La Posada. Todd Roth/NHO

If you are interested in Navajo rugs and Amerindian art, it is definitely worth a trip to Arizona to check out this beautiful rug. You can also watch this moving video about a special event in which the Joe family was invited to see the rug–many of them for the first time ever.

For those of you interested in learning more about large-scale Navajo rugs, we also highly recommend reading Jennifer McLerran’s article “The Spectacle of Navajo Weaving: Monumental Navajo Rugs” in the spring 2014 American Indian Art magazine. Unfortunately the article is not currently available online, but the magazine can be purchased here.

As always, feel free to contact us with any questions. Charley can be reached at