Good quality Navajo weavings are heirloom investments, and will increase in value. Taos Trading Post does not trade antique Navajo blankets and weavings, consequently this guide is not for the buyer of elderly Native American rugs and merchandise; who is well advised to research his find before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars, since Native American Indian rugs and blankets are not all valuable because they are old. We specialize in contemporary authentic high quality good to fine Navajo weavings, and the risk is less for investors in contemporary weaving. Quality, value and authenticity are more easily established. Additionally, it has become customary to attach documentation to Navajo weavings, in the form of a wired price tag bearing information about the weaver and her rug design.
It is futile to pursue exacting standards in evaluating Native American Indian rugs and blankets. The charm of the art form is its individuality. Appreciation of a particular work of Indian art may be further blurred by that indefinable element termed taste. The general rule for all art collection also applies to Navajo weavings. Buy what you like and will enjoy for a long time. Beyond that:
When assessing a Navajo rug, open it fully and lay it out flat. Disregard temporary wrinkles or creases, since they will be present if the rugs have been folded and stacked for a long time. Only by examining a weaving in its entirety on both sides, can a buyer be sure there are no significant defects and that edges are parallel, straight and square at the corners. The corners should not curl.
Fold the weaving lengthwise and widthwise to ensure the opposite sides are the same, or nearly so. Colors should be uniform, particularly within design basics.
Is the weave the same thickness throughout? Quality Navajo weavings can be coarse or fine, but it is always consistent. Warp threads should not show through. If they do, something went wrong in the weaving. The loom lost its tension, perhaps, or the weaver was a novice. Tightness and consistency of the weave is detected most certainly by feel.
The Navajo vertical loom, imparting great tension to the foundation cords during weaving, produces a tightly packed weave. Native American Indian rugs and blankets that are simulations, are frequently woven on horizontal looms operated mechanically, and are looser both of warp and weft. The odor of sheep is often present in Navajo handspun Native American rugs and is absent in imitations. Of course, the smell of sheep is also lacking in Navajo Native American rugs employing commercial yarns.
No Navajo textile is perfect. Slight flaws or personal embellishments are acceptable so long as they do not diminish or detract from the overall production. ‘Lazy lines’ are commonly found in excellent weaves. These diagonal lines in the material are created when a weaver carries her weft back and forth across one section of the warps, usually if she is weaving a textile of greater width than her reach so she need not shift her position with every weft. The lines are considered normal. Remember, buy what you like and will enjoy for a long time.