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How Navajo Died Their Rugs

You may be wondering how Navajo dyed their rugs. In this article, you’ll learn the ins and outs of Navajo rugs. Weaving techniques, rugs, and the beta are all described. And you’ll learn the story behind the Navajo’s favorite rug design: the beta. Abrash is a Persian word that describes abrupt or subtle changes in a rug’s color intensity. The most common cause of this effect is the weaver using different dye batches and times in a vat. Yarns dyed toward the end of the process are generally lighter than those dyed at the beginning. Navajo rug dealers prefer to use abrash as a feature in their rugs rather than as a flaw.

Navajo dyes

Traditionally, Navajo rugs were made using plant-based dyes. Many of these plants were native to the Navajo reservation, but after the 1880s, the weavers began using aniline dyes to color their rugs. The earliest aniline dye was Mauvine, but the plant was too expensive to be used in rugs. Later, synthetic dyes were introduced to the tribe to produce rugs at a lower cost.

Navajo weaving

“How a Navajo weaver died” by Bennie Klain is an incredibly moving documentary about American Indian weavers. Sol Worth and Benally Black both studied weaving in Navajo communities. Sol was in the same elementary school as John Adair, and both were connected to Navajo tradition and culture. During the summer of 1966, they were weaving rugs when their home caught fire. They lost everything, including their looms and materials used to weave baskets.

Navajo rugs

In attribution, the weavers assign a particular geographic location, category, and age to a rug. In some cases, attribution is also accompanied by dating. The criteria can be shaky, however. To be sure, however, it is best to check the rug’s condition. Many rugs show signs of aging. Here are some tips to help you date your rug.

Navajo beta

The Navajo people dyed their rugs in different ways. The original red Navajo betas were created by weaving flannel in England or Spain. Eventually, they began using beta to make blankets. But in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, they started using chemical dyes to get a wider color spectrum. The Navajo were known to spin their own wool until the 1860s when they were hampered by the US Army.

Navajo sand-drawings

The Navajo people dyed their rugs in a method known as sandpainting. This process began as early as the 1890s. During the Nightway ceremony, a trader named Hosteen Klah took his wife to see the ceremonial sand drawings and attempted to copy the designs from memory. He took her sketch in pencil and later made watercolor reproductions of his drawings. After his death, his nieces finished his work. Until the 1960s, only a handful of Navajo women had produced sandpainting rugs. And they were highly controversial, even within the Navajo community.

Navajo chief’s blanket

The Navajo chief’s blanket was woven for high-status people by women and was connected to the community, cosmology, and ceremony. This type of blanket quickly gained in value in trade across the Southwest and Great Basin. The blanket became so important to the Navajo people that it was often traded in the same way as jewelry. The blanket was also linked to the Apsaalooke and Lakota people, who were known as “those who make striped blankets.”

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