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Native American Rugs, Blankets, and Quilts
The best-known native textile art in North America is the weaving of Navajo Indian blankets and rugs.
These impressive (and expensive) wool rugs are still made in a style that was traditional in Mexico and the
southwest United States long before the arrival of Europeans: kneeling before a
vertical wooden-frame loom and using a shuttle to weave colored threads together into
large-scale geometric patterns. Originally Navajo and other Southwest Indian blankets were made of
hand-spun cotton thread, but after the Spanish brought domestic sheep to the region the Navajos
switched to wool.
Though Navajo blankets and rugs are the most famous weavings in North America, they are
certainly not the only native weaving tradition. Finger-weaving has been
important throughout the continent since ancient times, and finger-woven
blankets, tapestries, and clothing are still made in many tribes. The
chilkat blankets of Tlingit people are one of the finest examples of finger-woven
Native American blankets. Seminole sashes and patchwork are another important
Indian textile art. A more recent tradition is star quilts or blankets, which
originated among the Sioux tribes (Lakota, Dakota, and Nakoda/Assiniboine)
and spread throughout the Great Plains. Quilting was one of many crafting techniques that
Native Americans borrowed from European traditions and adapted into something unique to their culture.
Star quilts are made by piecing a mosaic of cloth diamonds into the shape of the traditional eight-pointed
morning star design of the Sioux. Before the evolution of star quilts, traditional Plains Indian blankets
were made from painted, quilled and beaded buffalo hide. When the buffalo herds were exterminated this
craft largely died out, but some Plains tribe artists still make buffalo robes and blankets today
from the hides of animals raised in captivity.
If you are looking to buy genuine rugs, quilts, or blankets that were actually made by Native Americans-- either
because it's important to you to have the real thing or because you want to support native people with your
purchase--then here is our list of American Indian artists whose native rugs and textiles are available for sale online. If you
have a website of Native American weaving or quilting to add to this list,
let us know.
We gladly advertise any individual native artist or native-owned rug store here free of charge, provided that
all rugs and blankets were made by tribally recognized American Indian, Inuit, or First Nations artists.
Thank you for your interest in Native American art!
Native American Rug Stores
On our main site we do our best to avoid slowing down our page loading with graphics, but this page is about art,
so we'd really be remiss in not showing a few representative weaving pictures. All photos are the property
of their respective artists; please visit their sites to see their work in more depth.
Southwest Indian Rugs and Blankets
Anita's Navajo Rugs|
Contemporary Native American rugs for sale by Navajo weaver Anita Hathale.
Click on the small photos for a better picture of her rug weaving--some of the thumbnails are really distorted,
but the rugs themselves look great!
Navajo Blankets and Rugs|
Another good online store with Navajo Indian rugs and blankets for sale.
Some of them use traditional weaving styles and others use original rug patterns drawing on the classics, such as the
innovative design in this picture.
Native American Star Quilts
Agard Family Quilts|
Star quilts are a Sioux tradition, and this Standing Rock Lakota family has been making gorgeous ones for 70 years.
Chilkat blankets were traditionally woven by the Tlingit Indians out of mountain goat hair and cedar bark.
They were five-sided, deeply fringed and were worn as capes during important ceremonies. The
Chilkat blanket-weaving tradition largely died out a hundred years ago, and the antique ones are costing
hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, here are a few contemporary Northwest Coast Indian blanket makers
whose inspiration is the Chilkat weaving and designs of their people.
This Tlingit woman has made painstaking reproductions
of old Chilkat blankets by weaving cedar bark, merino wool and yarn in the traditional way. She does sell work on commission,
but bear in mind that she weaves by hand and the blanket to the left took her two years to make.
This Northwest Coast Indian store makes rectangular cotton-weave blankets using traditional Chilkat blanket designs.
Blanket of Knowledge|
This Native Alaskan organization sells rectangular Pendleton blankets printed with Chilkat blanket patterns.
Buffalo Blankets and Robes
Another Native American blanket making tradition that was nearly lost, this time because of the near-extinction of the buffalo.
Now that buffalo products are becoming more available again, some Plains Indian artists are reclaiming the buffalo blanket.
Buffalo Hide Blankets|
Buffalo hides tanned, painted, and beaded in traditional Arapaho and
Shoshone styles. The artists also make similar blankets
from less expensive elk and deer skins.
Native American Finger-Weaving
Books about American Indian Blankets, Rugs, and Quilts
Native American Indian Rug and Blanket Links
Here are some other good internet resources for learning about or purchasing Native American blankets, rugs and quilts:
The Indian Arts and Crafts Act: US law against passing off fake American Indian crafts as genuine.
What constitutes Indian art fraud, and how to report it if you find it.
Native American Textiles: Article about native weaving arts in various North American tribes.
Navajo Weaving: Online museum exhibit on the traditions and designs of Navajo Indian rug and blanket weaving.
Weaving Is Life: Information and photographs about Southwest American Indian blanket weaving.
Navajo Chief's Blankets: Article about Navajo blanket and rug history.
Chilkat Blankets: Photographs of old Chilkat Indian blankets.
History of the Chilkat Native Blanket: History and traditions of Tlingit Indian blanket weaving.
The Metis Sash: Explanation of the history and symbolism behind Metis sashes.
Native American Arts and Crafts: Orrin contributed to this larger directory of authentic Indian crafts.
Native American Cultures: View our pages for individual Indian tribes, most of which have artistic information.
About us: This website belongs to Native Languages of the Americas, a non-profit
organization dedicated to preserving and promoting endangered Native American languages. We are not artists ourselves, so
if you are interested in buying some of the Native Indian rugs featured on this page, please contact the artists directly.
Though we have featured only American Indian blankets and rugs identified with the name and tribal affiliation of each artist, we haven't
called the tribal offices to check up on any of them, and we only know a few of them personally.
This is not an exhaustive list of Native American weaving arts--if you would like us to add your native rugs or quilts to this page, please
contact us with your URL and tribal affiliation. We advertise any individual native artist or
native-owned art business here free of charge. We do not link to rugs which are not made by tribally recognized
American Indian, Inuit, or First Nations artists. And finally, websites do expire and change hands, so use
your common sense and this general rule of thumb: if the creator of each individual artwork is not
identified by name and specific tribe, you are probably not looking at an authentic American Indian rug.
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