Art & Art History ETDs

Publication Date



The purpose of this study is to describe and classify a type of Navajo weaving usually termed the pictorial which has never been treated in all aspects by any single author. The term "pictorial" is used in this study to indicate any blanket or rug in which naturalistic motifs or intelligible lettering are used for their decorative or expressive qualities rather than for their ritual connotations or the sole purpose of permanently recording ritual designs such as sandpainting rugs. After reviewing anthropological literature relating to Navajo weaving and culture, extensive study was conducted on pictorials owned by various Southwestern museums. Finally, traders and curio shop operators in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Gallup, and on the eastern Navajo reservation were interviewed, and all pictorials in their inventories at the time of the visits were included in the study. These 191 rugs were categorized on the basis of design motifs and then organized chronologically within each category. Finally, they were classified by area and chronology. Early pieces seem stylistically related to Navajo rock art and sandpaintings, while later designs show white influence. Most examples which are of a known provenience are from around Lukachukai and Shiprock, but pictorials may be done on any area of the reservation. Design motifs range from native items to exotic objects introduced through white contacts. Certain designs have become standardized, while others are unique and show great originality. The rugs range in date from before 186J to 1969. Pictorial weaving is a creative response by the weaver to stimulation from outside as well as within and is as "Navajo" as the Ganado rug.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Mary Elizabeth Smith

Second Committee Member

Bainbridge Bunting

Third Committee Member

Jacob Jerome Brody