Navajo Rugs

All of our rugs are woven by Navajo weavers, most of whom live traditionally on the Navajo Reservation located across Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. This is the largest American Indian Reservation in the country, some 16 million acres with over 400,000 Navajos. From the inception of weaving by the Navajos around 1700, weaving has provided an important economic benefit to the tribe and a fine outlet for their artistic talents. Their rugs are made in the weaver's home or hogan on vertical looms using the same methods they have used for the past three hundred years. Today in the Southwest, the Navajos are the only Native Americans doing a large amount of weaving. We are presently getting less quantity of weaving than in the past, but the quality is the finest that it has ever been.

The Navajo Weavers

Too little recognition is given to the Navajo weavers for their creative instincts and artistic talents. Out of their minds, without benefit of pencil and paper, unfold these beautiful designs in the Navajo Rugs. Their spirit, a proud one born through years of adversity, is reflected in their weaving. The rug becomes part of the weaver, and many times we have seen her sigh, taking one last look at her rug and the many hours of labor it represents, as she leaves the rug behind after having sold it to us. Perhaps she is wondering who will own her rug, and will the new owner appreciate the effort she has put into her weaving.

The Wool

  • Native Handspun Wool: Some of the Navajo weavers still raise their own sheep. They shear, clean, card, dye, and spin the wool from their sheep, then weave this finished spun wool into their rug. 
  • Processed Wool Top: Today, much of the wool is sent out to be commercially cleaned and carded. This does a better job than the Navajos can do with their limited facilities. The wool is then spun into warp and weft threads by the weaver. There is also available now a processed prespun one-ply wool, which can be respun by the weavers. 
  • Commercial Wool Yarn: Wool that is spun into more than one ply is usually referred to as yarn. We are seeing more use of this commercially cleaned, carded, dyed, and spun four-ply yarn. This yarn is more symmetrical than handspun, easier to work with, and saves the weaver many tedious hours in preparing the wool for her rug.
  • Natural Wool Colors: The natural colors of the sheep's wool: white, black, brown, and grey, are used in some of the finest rugs such as the Two Grey Hills. The black is often dyed to obtain a more intense color and the grey can be a carded mixture of black and white. These natural colors are also carded together to obtain various shades such as tan and beige. 
  • Vegetal Dyes: Since 1920 there has been a resurgence in the use of coloring obtained from native Reservation plants. These plants are boiled to extract the coloring and a mordant (usually an acid) is added to fix the color fast. The wool is then cooked in this mixture until the right shade is obtained. These native colors generally have soft, pleasingly light earth tones.
  • Aniline Dyes: The aniline or commercial dyes were introduced to the Navajo weavers around 1870. These are the bright colors, the red of the Ganado rug, the vivid hues of the Teec Nos Pos, the contrast of the Yeis and Yei-be-chais. These are the bright colors that made the Navajo rug commercially well known.

Costs of Navajo Rugs

The prices of Navajo Rugs are based on the amount of time required and the skill exhibited by the weaver. This is reflected by the type of wool used, the fineness of the spinning, the tightness of the weave, complexity of the design, color, and size. The compensation for the weaver has been increasing and will continue to increase. The factor combined with the phasing out of the older, more experienced weavers, and the lack of younger Navajo women taking up the craft, relfects why today's Navajo Rugs are truly a good investment for the future.

Purchasing a Navajo Rug

Important Considerations:

  1. Deal with a dependable dealer.
  2. Establish your requirements: style, color, quality, budget.
  3. Select a number of rugs that meet the requirements that you have set.
  4. Eliminate one by one until the right rug remains.

Things to Look For:

  1. Place the rug on the floor; the best rugs lie flat with no gatherings.
  2. The designs should be symmetrical and the lines straight.
  3. Slight imperfections are acceptable; Navajo Rugs are handmade.
  4. Buy the rug that appeals to you most, it is the right one. You will like it even more the longer it is with you.

Care of your Navajo Rug

Navajo Rugs are tough. They will accept a lot of wear and last for generations if given proper care. If your rug is to be used on the floor, a foam mat underneath it will prevent wear and skidding. Vacuum cleaning is normally all that is required. Do not let water sit on the rug; it is wool and will shrink and some dyes may run. Do not attempt to wash the rug yourself; the best cleaning method is to have it hand washed by professionals. If the weaving becomes stained or deeply soiled contact a reputable dealer for their advice.

Displaying your Navajo Rug

For mounting a Navajo rug on the wall, we recommend 2" wide Velcro with contact adhesive on the back. Simply remove the paper backing from the adhesive side and place the strip of Velcro on the wall. Press the top edge of the rug on the strip; the Velcro will hold it there. Cut 3" long pieces and place under each bottom corner; this will pull the rug smooth. This special Velcro is available from our store. Both sides of a Navajo rug are the same; turn once or twice a year. For More information on using velcro to hang your rug, read our blog post here.

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How to Hang Your Navajo Rug with Velcro. In our experience, Velcro is the easiest way to hang a rug. If you purchase a Navajo Rug from Garland's, we will provide you with Velcro for free if you wish to hang your rug on a wall. The velcro is self-adhesive and you can stick it directly to most surfaces.

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Sizing

Although the best way to test the size and fit of a piece of jewelry is to try it on in the store, we know that is not always an option. In an effort to help you choose the piece that is right for you, we have included measurements of each piece on the website. Here is how our measurements are defined:

Bracelets

Finding the right size bracelet for your wrist has always been a tricky endeavor, since, unlike rings, there isn't a standardized, universal sizing chart for wrist size. One reason for this is that we all have different shaped wrists, some of us have round wrists, while others have more oval. Bracelets, like wrists, also have different shapes.

So, while bracelet sizing will never be an exact science, we've done what we can to ensure the greatest chance of a comfortable fit. The best thing you can do if you don't know your wrist size is to take a soft measuring tape and loosely measure the circumference of your wrist at the point you plan on wearing it. Try not to have the measuring tape dig into your skin, as this will result in a smaller than ideal size. Once you have the circumference of your wrist, compare it to the chart below to find the correct bracelet size. If your wrist measures in-between two sizes, we recommend rounding up to the larger size. (ie: if your wrist measures 6.375"- you should shop for size "Medium" bracelets.)

 Wrist Circumference

Corresponding Bracelet Size

5.5"

XX-Small

5.75"

Extra-Small

6"

Small

6.25"

Small-Medium

6.5"

Medium

6.75" - 7"

Medium-Large

7.25"

Large

7.5"

Extra-Large

7.75"

XX-Large

8"

XXX-Large

 

You may want to drill down further on the bracelet sizing to make sure the cuff is a comfortable fit. You will notice on our website that we generally list four measurements for bracelets:

Keep in mind that certain bracelets can be adjusted slightly to fit your wrist, but those with inlay or stones all the way around will be damaged if bent. In any case, it is always best to check with with us to see if a particular bracelet is adjustable.

Lastly, have no fear! If you order a bracelet that doesn't fit, send it back for one that does! We want this to be a positive experience, you should never wear something that isn't 100% comfortable. More on our return policy here.

Buckles

Sizing belt buckles is pretty straightforward. The height and width are self-explanatory, and the belt width describes the maximum belt width the buckle will fit on.

Concha Belts

We try to include the height and width for the conchas, as well as the buckle (if different), and the width of the belt they are on. The length of the concha belts can be less important, because these belts are often made quite long to accommodate many waist sizes, and then can be shortened to fit the wearer. If you are concerned whether or not a belt will fit you, just ask. We are happy to size most of our concha belts before shipping.