Navajo weaving has captured the imagination of many not only because they are beautiful, well-woven textiles but also because they so accurately mirror the social and economic history of Navajo people. Succinctly, Navajo women wove their life experiences into the pieces.
Until about the 1820s, the Navajo made simple striped blankets identical to the Pueblo. … These blankets, which the Ute Indians prized (hence the reference to them as Ute-style) are most valued by Navajo blanket collectors today, in large part because of their rarity.
What did Native Americans use for bedding?
Historically, Indian people wore blankets made from woven plant fibers, animal hides and fur and eventually from fabric woven by hand from wool or cotton.
The only surviving pioneer mill for those blankets is Pendleton Woolen Mills in Pendleton, Oregon. They sell to non-Indians as well, but about half their annual production goes to Indians, particularly Navajos.
Not every Navajo weaving contains lazy lines. When the Navajo weaver works on a rug, she puts her soul, her energy, her spirit into it. … When the weaving is completed, the belief is the energy and spirit woven into the rug must be released so the weaver will have the energy and spirit to continue weaving other rugs.
Navajo weaving, blankets and rugs made by the Navajo and thought to be some of the most colourful and best-made textiles produced by North American Indians. The Navajo, formerly a seminomadic tribe, settled in the southwestern United States in the 10th and 11th centuries and were well established by 1500.
As you can see in the picture above, the young lady who is seated behind master weaver Jane Hyden is wearing what is called in Navajo a biil (pronounced beel) and it is also referred to as a rug dress.
In the early 1800s Navajo women began to weave chief’s blankets, which were so widely traded that they were worn by Indians from the northern Great Plains to the Mexican border. Although not a badge of chieftainship, these blankets did symbolize power and affluence.