Between the stunning landscapes and rich cultures of the American Southwest, it’s no wonder the region’s style is popular across the country, especially in rustic abodes like log homes and cabins. One of the more popular ways to incorporate this culture is with textiles like rugs and blankets.
One reader, Peggy from California, is new to collecting Navajo rugs and wanted to know the 101.
What are Navajo rugs?
These are cultural textiles made by the Navajo Nation in the Southwestern United States and are one of the most colorful and popular kinds of Native American rugs. The textiles showcase a variety of weaving styles, many of which are named after their inspiration or place of origin and have distinct colors and patterns.
Generally, you can identify a Navajo rug based on a few common defining characteristics:
- No Fringe. The weavers use vertical looms with a long, unbroken piece of yarn.
- Wool or Cotton Yarn. Most are made using these materials, and not many authentic ones are made of synthetic yarn.
- Selvedge Lines. These are finished edges that run along the sides of the rug.
- Lazy Lines. These are diagonal line breaks in the fabric’s weave.
How can I display my rug?
There are two common ways to display Navajo rugs: on the floor or on the wall. On the floor is the simplest, often only requiring a rug pad underneath for protection.
If you wish to display your rug along the wall, Velcro will be your best friend. The hook side of the Velcro will adhere to newer rugs, but you can hand-sew the loop side of the Velcro to the rug if needed. A wood board or plexiglass cut smaller than your rug is great for mounting the rug after Velcro is attached to support all four sides and can be nailed directly into the wall.
How do I properly care for my rug?
Like most delicate items in your home, Navajo rugs require maintenance to remain beautiful and clean.
Vacuuming rugs with an upholstery or non-brush attachment is key to protecting these textiles. Rugs on the floor should be turned every few weeks and cleaned regularly, while rugs hanging on the wall can be cleaned every few months. Be sure not to shake or beat the rugs to avoid damaging the threads.
Rugs used on the floor should have a pad under them, and any spills and stains should be taken care of immediately. If a thorough cleaning is needed, look for a professional with experience working with Navajo rugs.