Southwestern style rugs can be a great addition inside or outside your house, but do you know anything surrounding the origins of these rugs? What we consider southwestern style rugs were originally made by the Native Americans living in what is now the southwestern United States and Mexico. Here is a look at some of the history behind the patterns and subtle beauty of these rugs.
The Navajo tribes are usually the best recognized for their hand woven rugs and blankets. Many contend that the Navajo learned how to weave from the Pueblo Indians in neighboring territories after the conquistadors forced the Pueblo to move north into Navajo land. The ensuing cultural exchange is believed to have left the Navajo with their rug making techniques. The original intent of the Navajo was to create clothing for themselves, but the patterns and colors that they used have also translated into rugs. The Navajo used a vertical wooden loom to weave different colored threads together in order to produce their beautiful rugs. Originally they were made of hand-spun cotton thread, but after the Spanish introduced sheep to the region the Navajo switched to wool. As more contact was made with European settlers, trade was established and the rugs began to move across the country and into new homes. After the Santa Fe Trail opened in 1822, commerce expanded and the transition from blankets to rugs became more pronounced.
Many of the earlier examples of this type of rug making have become very valuable, selling for thousands of dollars at auction. The reason is that these are some of the earliest forms of American folk art, and are meant more for decoration than for everyday use in homes. While you can by machine-made rugs in the same style as traditional Navajo rugs, the genuine product is only hand made on a loom. That is one of the reasons these rugs have become so sought after in recent times.
Navajo rugs usually have great symmetrical balance, meaning that each side will mirror the other. If the rug is folded in half, each side will match the other perfectly. They are usually also symmetrical from top to bottom, many times with a diamond pattern or other geometric shapes incorporated into the weave. While they may seem simplistic, there is careful preparation that goes into planning the creation of one of these rugs to make sure that their symmetrical balance is as close to perfect as possible. These less ornate designs are also what make them easy to fit into many different decorative styles, and complement almost any room.
Today, there are still large numbers of traditional Navajo weavers who create and sell blankets and rugs in the southwestern style. While these rugs are beautiful and one of a kind, you can also purchase cheaper machine-made rugs with similar styling. Check out our large selection of both hand woven and machine-made rugs on our website, or contact us for more information on adding one of these elegant rugs to your home today.