Attend Navajo Rug Auctions

One of those sought after Native American products are the beautiful Navajo Rugs. There’s quite a bit of history involved as to when and how the Navajo began making these very distinctive products.

genuine navajo blankets and rugs

Navajo blankts on display at Hubbell Trading Post on Navajo Reservation

History of Navajo Weaving

Historians believe that the  Navajo may have learned to weave from the Pueblo Indians when the Navajo moved into the Four Corners region of Arizona and New Mexico between the era of the 1300’s to the 1500’s.

Some others believe that the Navajo’s were not involved in weaving to perhaps the 1700’s. This would have been after the Spaniards entered the region. At first the Navajo’s employed cotton for their weaving products but it seems that they converted over to wool after the Spaniards arrived.

There’s some interesting history that might explain how the Navajo’s learned the craft from the nearby pueblo peoples. While historians can document that the two different tribes did not exactly get along because of Navajo raids into pueblo territory, it appears that the two tribes did indeed forge some type of friendship after the Conquistadors entered the picture.

The pueblo Indians were put into a kind of forced servitude during the first Spanish occupation of Nuevo Mexico which resulted in the bloody Pueblo Revolt of 1680. It was during and after this revolt that many pueblo Indians fled westward to the land of the Navajo. The Pueblo Revolt expelled the Spaniards from Nuevo Mexico for twelve years.

old hubbell trading post 1800's

Hubbell Trading Post in the 1890’s

The earliest pieces of Navajo weaving which can be dated and that still exist today come to us from Massacre Cave in Canon del Muerto.

Pieces of Navajo weaving dating to the years 1804-05 when the punitive slaughter took place in the Canon, were found circa 1900. These pieces contain a plain stripe pattern in the blanket’s design. This is considered a Navajo adaptation of the Pueblo teacher’s style of design.

Navajo Blankets and Rugs and the Santa Fe Trail

Commerce increased for the Navajo and the selling of Navajo blankets and Navajo rugs after the opening of the Santa Fe Trail in 1822. The trail established a busy commerce link between New Mexico which was then ruled by Mexico and the growing United States. Prior to that time the Spaniards were known to discourage trade with the U.S. The establishing of trade over the Santa Fe Trail was the single largest event that introduced their weaving products to the east.

The first Navajo products on the market were blankets rather than rugs. The change to rugs occurred circa 1880.

 

Today, there is a large market for the Navajo rugs and Navajo blankets and many Navajo’s are involved in it’s commercialization. These genuine Navajo rug products today might sell for around $800 depending on size and for many Navajo’s this business represents their sole income. The only real obstacle for their rug industry are the many foreign imitations that are found in many shops.

It’s important to know what you’re buying and while there are certainly many top-notch dealers of genuine Navajo rugs in the Santa Fe and surrounding area, one excellent auction venue in particular, the Crownpoint Auction, will allow you to buy the real thing directly on the Navajo reservation.

genuine navajo rugSee the four Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Driving the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Highway

The Cliff House of Manitou Springs

Explore Western Art in San Antonio Texas

Barrio de Analco and America’s Oldest House

The Crownpoint Auctions

Navajo weavers from all over the Southwest converge on a small rural New Mexico town to sell their decorative rugs by way of an auction.
Auctions are held usually the second Friday of each month on the Navajo reservation. The auctions is planned to start at about 7 pm and ends around 10 pm. Rug viewing begins at 4:00 PM and ends at 6:30 PM allowing the many prospective buyers to examine the rugs prior to the auction at 7:00 PM. Payment is accepted in cash, traveler checks or personal checks. The auction does not accept credit cards.
Navajo winter hogan

Navajo winter hogan, circa 1895

The auction itself is held at the Crownpoint Elementary School in the small town of Crownpoint. The town is located about 25 miles north of Thoreau New Mexico on NM 371. The Thoreau exit on Interstate-40 is #53.

Thoreau is located between Gallup and Grants New Mexico. If you’re in Santa Fe or on Interstate-40 in New Mexico on the auction dates, a visit to the Crownpoint Auction makes a very unique and rewarding side trip.

 

Buyers at the Crownpoint Rug Auction have the  unique opportunity to purchase Navajo rugs directly from the weavers themselves and prices that are well below retail. The world famous Crownpoint Navajo Rug Auction is the premier venue for the purchasing of authentic contemporary Navajo rugs at auction.

 

The Crownpoint Rug Weavers Association has been auctioning rugs from all over the reservation since 1968. The auction keeps growing in popularity and brings buyers from all over the United States and the world. For additional information the auction phone number is 505-787-7386.
(Article copyright 2014 Trips Into History. Photos and images in public domain)

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