Navajo and Armenian Carpet Motifs, What's the Connection?

Recently, when HDIF's staff was preparing an order for more beautiful fabrics from our manufacturer in Egypt, we remarked about how some of the motifs remind us of Navajo textiles.

Tim posted a Facebook message calling the new selection of fabrics the "Navajo Collection." A few of Tim's followers wrote back with this amazing story and images:

"Tim, the Navajo copied Armenian designs. In the early 1900s they were instructed to adopt Armenian rug patterns and weave rugs for commercial purposes in the US. Before then, they only wove blankets with horizontal lines. Here is an early Navajo rug clearly copying Armenian designs.

The Armenian rug patterns were introduced to the Navajo by JB Moore. He was a trader who established a post at Crystal, New Mexico, where he developed the manufacture of Navajo blankets for sale in the United States.

Around the turn of the 20th century, there was great demand for oriental rugs, so Moore developed simplified oriental patterns for his weavers. He took the designs of Armenian rugs (they called them Turkish at the time), which were popular in the US, simplified them, and passed them on to the Navajo to produce.

He wrote a book, called “The Navajo” in which he illustrates this. This publication was a catalogue published to promote his Navajo rugs."

Thank you to our friend, Arto Tavukciyan, and the inimitable Hratch Kozibeyokian for educating us about the Armenian connection to Navajo carpet weaving!

Beth Broussalian