Burntwater Navajo Weaving handwoven by Navajo weaver Julia Pete. It measures 36 x 57 inches.
Navajo Burntwater rugs are known for their beautiful pastel colors derived from Native vegetal dyes and also for their excellence in weave. Burntwater rugs are a more recent development of the late 1960s but exemplify the role the Trader still plays in encouraging local weavers. The Navajo rug design known as Burntwater was developed by Bruce Burnham and Don Jacobs at the Burntwater Trading Post near Sanders, AZ. These traders encouraged their local weavers to create very fine weavings using the Central Diamond and Four Sacred Mountain design introduced from Oriental rugs to the Navajo by traders at the turn of the century in an attempt save the art of Navajo weaving by opening Eastern markets in the United States.
A Guide to Navajo Rugs
There is an ageless beauty to Navajo weaving. Navajo weavings are many things to people. Above all else, Navajo weavings are masterworks, regardless of whose criteria of art is used to judge them. They are evocative, timeless portraits which, like all good art, transcend time and space. Navajo weaving has captured the imagination of many not only because they are beautiful, well-woven textiles but also because they so accurately mirror the social and economic history of Navajo people. Succinctly, Navajo women wove their life experiences into the pieces.
Navajo people tell us they learned to weave from Spider Woman and that the first loom was of sky and earth cords, with weaving tools of sunlight, lightning, white shell, and crystal. Anthropologists speculate Navajos learned to weave from Pueblo people by 1650. There is little doubt Pueblo weaving was already influenced by the Spanish by the time they shared their weaving skills with Navajo people. Spanish influence includes the substitution of wool for cotton, the introduction of indigo (blue) dye, and simple stripe patterning. Besides the “manta” (a wider-than-long wearing blanket), Navajo weavers also made a tunic-like dress, belts, garters, hair ties, men’s shirts, breechcloths, and a “serape-style” wearing blanket.