Traditional Navajo Dresses, AKA Biil

In addition to rugs and saddle blankets, Charley’s Navajo Rugs also carries several fine Navajo dresses, or biil. Though these can certainly be used as decorative pieces (they work wonderfully as wall hangings), the biil dress is actually still worn by Navajo girls and women for special occasions like graduations and weddings.

This is an example of a Navajo dress panel–there would need to be an identical back panel to truly make this a dress.

Navajo dresses dress panel

Below is a dress that may have been worn for a Navajo wedding. You can see that it is made of two panels that have been stitched together, with arm and neck holes left open.

navajo dresses biil

Navajo dresses are woven in the same style as a rug would be, but they are often more finely woven. You can see in the detailed picture below that the dress shown above is very tightly woven–as befits a textile that is to be worn rather than used as a rug or blanket.

navajo dresses biil detail

Navajo dresses, or biil, are still primarily produced by Navajo weavers either for their own use and to sell to other Navajos–they are not a commercial item like most Navajo rugs. This is a very traditional form of dress–the oldest known example of a biil dress was the one worn by Juanita, wife of Chief Manuelito, around 1868.

If you have additional questions about traditional Navajo dresses, or biil, please contact Charley at