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Navajo Storm Pattern Weavings

Navajo Storm Pattern weaving history

If you’re looking for a Navajo rug with a great design that tells a story, then a Navajo Storm pattern weaving  may fit the bill! Though the exact origin of these weavings  is unknown, the Navajo Storm Pattern appears to have become popular when JB Moore, the trader at the Crystal Trading post published this design in two catalogs, one in 1903 and one in 1911. Some believe that the Storm Pattern was designed by JB Moore and others think that weavers on the reservation started this design and that JB Moore further developed and marketed it, thus making it the popular style of Navajo Weavings it still is today. `

In addition to the exact origin of the Storm Pattern weaving, there is also debate on the meaning of the rug and the story it tells. Though whatever the story, it is commonly thought that the stories were developed by those that have sold and collected storm patterns over the years and not the actual weavers.  The characteristics of a storm pattern Navajo weaving consist of a design in the center which connects to four rectangular shapes, one in each of the four corners of the weaving. One of the beliefs is that the Navajo storm pattern depicts a Navajo Hogan (dwelling) in the middle and the four corners represent the sacred mountains. The four lines going from the center to the four corners are believed to connect the Hogan to the mountains and carry blessings for the Navajo people.Another theory is that the storm pattern design depicts the navajo mythological story of how life came from the lake of emergence from the underworld, with the center symbolizing the lake and the four lines connecting the lake to the sacred mountains. Some storm patterns also include the waterbug which is a significant figure in Navajo mythology as well as whirling logs, which symbolize good luck to the Navajo people. So, no matter how you look at it, the Storm Pattern weavings are just bursting with interesting stories and symbolism!

The other quality that makes Storm Pattern Navajo Weavings so desirable is that they come in a wide variety of colors from vibrant to more subdued. Traditionally storm pattern rugs were woven in natural wool colors such as black, white, and gray and red.   Over the years there have been several variations of these colors creating numerous possibilities of beautiful weavings for collecting or to fit any decor!

Check out the Navajo Storm pattern weavings that we have for sale at red mesa gallery here

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Crystal Trading Post July 2015

Jeff Voracek and Steve Getzwiller on the Crystal Trading Post in July of 2015 the day before it closed
Jeff Voracek and Steve Getzwiller at the Crystal Trading Post
Jeff Voracek and Steve Getzwiller on the Crystal Trading Post in July of 2015 the day before it closed
Jeff Voracek and Steve Getzwiller on the Crystal Trading Post in July of 2015 the day before it closed

Here are some great pictures of Jeff Voracek and the late Steve Getzwiller of Nizhoni Ranch. This was one of the many road trips that Jeff and Steve took together. On this particular trip they were at the Crystal Trading Post, located on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico. This was back in July of 2015, just one day before the trading post was torn down.

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Note:  This is a very brief synopsis of the history of Navajo Weavings. A comprehensive history could be four hundred plus pages. 

Also, note that historically, the Navajo women did the 

weavings with some rare exceptions. With the Navajo being a matriarchal society, the women did much of the farming for corn, beans and squash. The Navajo (primarily the Navajo women) were sought after as slaves by some of the Southwest tribes, Mexicans, and Americans. So the content below is referring mostly to the Navajo women. 

Navajo legends say that the Navajo people first learned to weave from “Spider Woman”. However, based on evidence, the Navajo were very likely weaving when 

they arrived In the Southwest just a few hundred years before the Spanish conquistadors who brought the sheep to the new world. They may have used cotton and/or mountain sheep wool.   Wool was first used to weave 

in the 1600s. This happened as a result of the Spanish coming to 

American shores to conquer the Pueblos and to look for gold. During this time the 

Pueblos went into hiding co-existing with the Navajos and it is believed that 

during this time the Navajos adopted some of the Pueblo ways of weaving. 

The end of the 1700s brought huge changes to the Navajo weavings as they had 

moved away from the Pueblo influence and had taken control  of their own style. 

By this time, the quality of Navajo weavings was considered to be superior and 

the weavings were very valuable with vivid colors and being woven very tightly.   

By the mid-1800s, the Navajos had returned to their original area (mesas and canyons) and began to depend more on the sale of weavings. 

The railroad in the late 1800s made it easier for the Navajos to do commerce.  Around the same time trading posts were opened on the Navajo reservations and floor rugs became more popular among the general population.

During the early 1900s Navajo Weavings became more of what we are used to seeing today with regional styles developing later.  

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