Vintage Navajo Weaving: Storm, circa 1930, 3’2″ x 5’7″



This Vintage Navajo weaving is a Storm pattern woven in 1930.

It measures 3’2″ x 5’7″

History of the Storm Design

The Storm rug style is distinguished by its design, not colors. This abstract design is supposed to contain the Navajo symbolism for a storm, but it is widely believed a trader in Tuba City developed and promoted it among local weavers, perhaps after hearing a Navajo legend, or possibly from a printed flour sack. It is the only rug style that purports to be an abstract portrayal of a natural event.

In the middle of the rug is a rectangle, representing the center of the universe. Four rectangles in the corners of the rug stand for the homes of the four winds or, by some interpretations, the four sacred mountains of the Navajo world. Zigzag “lightning” connects these with the center.

Storm rugs usually have a dark border that is often embellished on one side with geometric “teeth.”

The space between the main design and the border usually contains stylized elements, such as clouds and water beetles. Arrows, feathers, and geometric designs abound.

They used to pass out the papers and say: ‘you weave one like this,’…Grandmother that passed away, she never did copy one. She didn’t want the paper. She used to say ‘I’ll weave my own pattern’. –Mikes Daughter Frank, Jedito, Arizona

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.