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Kit Carson Rug


This is a Navajo weaving that was completed around 1900. The weaver is unknown. It is an unusual textile in that it is made to be viewed from only one direction. This would indicate that the weaver created this textile for a specific purpose, beyond its use as a floor or wall covering. In this instance, the general consensus is that the rug was made to tell a story about the Navajo people.

Another unusual feature of the weaving is that it is meant to be viewed from only one direction and it includes numerous elements that change within the weaving.

Who made this?

An unknown Navajo weaver working probably in Eastern Arizona or Western New Mexico sometime around 1900 produced the weaving. It is meant to be viewed from only one direction.  Because Native American culture is primarily oral, we may never know the intent of the maker. Without documentation, the origins and any meanings are now up to the present to determine.

What is unique about this textile?

This wall piece includes numerous elements that change within the weaving:

There is a six-pointed star on top but two five-pointed stars below.

The fletches on the arrows on top are solid while they are striped on the bottom.

The arrow with the bow at the very bottom of the weaving has no point.

The piece is expertly woven so it is unlikely that these inconsistencies are accidental.

One Interpretation:

The Navajos who have seen this weaving provide us with one story about what it means:

The top of the rug symbolizes the Navajo people as they had been until the late 1800s.

The six-pointed star is said to represent their culture, as do the black (male) and white (female) arrows.

The star with the face in the center is said to represent Kit Carson, the Taos resident who was responsible for relocating the Navajos from their ancestral homelands in Western New Mexico and Eastern Arizona to Bosque Redondo in Eastern New Mexico in 1864.

The bottom of the weaving represents the Navajos after that forced relocation and upon their return in 1868 to their ancestral homes.