In the early days of tourism in the American Southwest, Navajo Weavers would set up their looms near the major roads through the reservation. Donna remembers these weaver tableaus from her family travels through New Mexico and Arizona in the 1940s and 50s. In those days, there were still buckboard wagons and horses tied near the weaver’s camp. Trading posts such as Hubbell’s (now a National Historic Site), and the Fred Harvey Company (Santa Fe Railroad) employed weavers to demonstrate to prospective customers the skill and effort required to produce a Navajo Rug.
These fairly crude chalkware bookends are very rare; this is the only pair we’ve seen that show a Navajo weaving at the iconic upright loom. We value the pair for their rarity and for the association it has to our interest in the art and craft of the Indians of the Southwest.
The history of the Navajo Rug has many twists and turns. Domesticated sheep came with the Spanish colonization of the Americas. This was followed by the weaving of wool into wearing blankets and later the familiar floor rugs. The tradition has continued to the present day. Navajo weavings are prized by collectors and interior designers today, and some Navajo blankets from the nineteenth century are valued in six figures.
If you are traveling in New Mexico take time to visit Toadlena Trading Post, where the tradition of quality weaving is maintained.