During the 1970s, we began to see Navajo weavings with more than one pattern. Some would feature two or three or more Navajo weavings woven within the borders of the main rug.
Some, like the Burnham area weavings, would include parts of different design elements from multiple weaving areas.
Some of these were stunning, and some were more like an exercise in weaving technology. One of my favorite traders, Sallie Lippincott, who with her husband was the trader at Wide Ruins before WW II, would have hated the contemporary multi-pattern weavings.
She felt that prizes given at different fairs for weavings were based not on artistic merits but on technical ability and that the busier or more intricate the pattern, the more likely the weaver was to win a prize.
But weavings made before the last part of the century divided the center pattern of the weaving into different, specific areas, and we have one that she might have liked.
This Navajo rug was woven in the late ’40s or early 1950s. It is all hand-spun wool; the only dye is red, obtained from the trader in small paper packets called “Navajo Dye.” The other colors are from natural wool.
It probably wouldn’t be correct to call this a multi-pattern weaving because there are only two repeated patterns, but it would have been considered very innovative then.
In addition to the twelve eight-sided enclosed designs, there are other geometric patterns in the field of the weaving.
This is a unique, one-of-a-kind weaving by a woman who, eighty years ago, was willing to take a chance and do something different. I suspect that the people who owned this piece recognized that fact as they took good care of the rug, which is in excellent condition.