This geometric rug handcrafted by Navajo weaver Wilbertson Begay is a masterful work of art inspired by classic 19th century Navajo blankets often known as “chief’s blankets.” Featuring the vivid earth-tones found on the Navajo Nation, this tightly woven work features a central rectangular element connected by diagonal stepped lines to geometric elements in each corner. The complexity of the weaving and the beauty of the design showcases the artist’s skill and the superior craftsmanship that has made Navajo weaving a lasting and valuable art form. A gorgeous modern revival, this rug is a superb addition to any collection of fine art.
- Rug handmade by Wilbertson Begay (Navajo)
- Genuine Revival style rug
- Commercial dyed wool
- Rug measures 30” x 24”
- Comes with a signed Certificate of Authenticity
Handcrafted works of Native American art require special care. For more information about proper care and cleaning, please read our Care Guide.
Celebrated weaver Wilbertson Begay of the Navajo Nation often draws upon tradition in creating his Chief, Pictorial, Ganado, and Germantown style weavings. Wilbertson resides with his family in the northeastern part of the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.
In the 19th century, the Navajo wove blankets for trade with the Spanish and other Native American cultures. By 1850, their “chief’s blankets” had become a highly valued trade good, known for their warmth, softness and high quality. Though the Navajo have no chiefs, the blankets were known as chief’s blankets because only the chiefs of Plains Indian tribes and other wealthy people could afford them. There were three phases in the development of chief’s blanket designs. In the first phase, which lasted from approximately 1820 to 1860, blankets featured a simple design of broad horizontal stripes in brown, white and indigo blue. Second-phase blankets had the same horizontal stripes with the addition of red rectangles. In the third phase, weavers added diamond motifs drawn from Mexican rug designs. Third-phase rugs were red, indigo blue, black and white and generally had nine diamond shapes, often with crosses, zigzags, triangles and other motifs inside them. Together, these three phases make up the Classical period in Navajo weaving, which ended with the arrival of the railroad in the Southwest in the 1880s. Today, many Navajo weavers have returned to these classic styles of weaving, creating extraordinary revival-style rugs that will last for generations.
For nearly two centuries, Navajo rugs have been highly sought after trade items, prized for their beauty and quality. Anthropologists believe the Navajo people were introduced to weaving in the 17th century by the Pueblo people, who had been growing and weaving cotton for hundreds of years before the arrival of the Spanish. Navajo weavers primarily used wool from the churro sheep brought by the Spanish. The Navajo believe that Spider Boy gave them their first loom and that Spider Woman taught them how to weave. Early Navajo blankets were simple in design and used very little color. By the middle of the 19th century, Navajo “Chief’s Blankets” had become a highly valued trade good, known for their softness and quality, and were traded as far away as the Great Plains. Styles were influenced by Spanish and Mexican weaving and artists began to add some geometric patterns such as rectangles and diamond shapes.
Navajo weaving declined in the late 19th century as more manufactured clothing and goods arrived with the railroads and demand decreased. Around the turn of the century, traders like J.L. Hubbell, C.N. Cotton and John B. Moore encouraged the revival of Navajo weaving, believing rugs could be marketed to audiences in the Eastern United States. As the only significant customers of Navajo rugs at this time, these traders had a significant impact on the direction of Navajo weaving. They introduced their own design concepts and, as a result, particular weaving styles developed around trading posts, such as Two Grey Hills and Ganados. Navajo weavers also turned to vegetal dyes at this time and in a few decades became known for the unsurpassed quality of their rugs and tapestries. Today Navajo rugs are prized for their artistry and craftsmanship and considered among the most valuable in the world.Read our Native American Rugs Collector's Guide.
At Shumakolowa Native Arts, we guarantee that your purchase is an original and authentic work handcrafted by Native American artists as defined by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. We ask our artists to complete an extensive certification process, providing a CIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) card and other documentation of their Native American heritage. Our team of experts carefully inspects every product to guarantee it is handcrafted using traditional, sustainable processes and natural materials of only the highest quality. We record the place and date of each purchase and pride ourselves in paying a fair price that allows artists to make a living practicing their craft. Every work of handcrafted art comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by an artist or buyer. At a time when many commercially-made products are being sold as handcrafted Native American art, our in-depth purchase process allows us to guarantee the authenticity of every unique piece of fine art we offer. For more than 35 years, we have made it a priority to visit artists in their studio or home to purchase their latest handcrafted pieces and learn about their work. We have developed lasting relationships with artists, as well as dealers and collectors, and we take pride in being a trusted destination for fine Native American art.