A good Navajo weaving is anything but flimsy. Three million pairs of boots and shoes tracked across a rug carpeting the entrance floors to the New Mexico state exhibit hall at the 1933 Chicago world’s fair. Not a thread was found to be broken.
The Navajos created woven blankets and rugs that are beautiful, practical and, some say, so tightly woven they could hold a bucket of water and not lose a drop. The bold, geometric designs show up in everything from shoulder blankets, worn like shawls, to rugs and bedrolls. No two are exactly alike.
Tribal chiefs did not exist in the Navajo chain of command, so chief blankets could be worn by any member of the tribe. Such blankets were often traded and cherished by the chiefs of other Indian tribes. A blanket’s phase distinguishes the pattern of the weaving. Featured blankets at this auction were from the Classic Period (1650-1870s).
On Nov. 18, 2002, Butterfields (now merged with Bonhams) featured a selection of Navajo weavings in its Native American, Pre-Columbian and Tribal Art auction in San Francisco, California.