Navajo Rug Yei Made by Eli VanWinkle at Canyon de Chelly. Eli is related to the well-known Canyon de Chelly guide, Bobby VanWinle. Yei is short for Yei Bei Chai which is symbolic of both a religious figure and a ceremony. These are female figures. Made in 2002. 26" x 36" $900
Navajo Rug Geometric Design 27" x 32" $600
Two Grey Hills 26" x 44"
Made in 2001 $6.900
Raised Outline Rug 29" x 40"
Made in 2002 $1,800
Pictorial Bird Rug 24" x 32"
Made in 2001 $900
Wide Ruin Vegetal Dye
Made in 1962 46" x 62"
Pine Springs Vegetal Dye
Made in 1972 20" x 29" $1,200
Pine Springs Vegetal Dye
Made in 1998. 31" x 43"
Pine Springs Vegetal Dye Made in 1975 27" x 33" $1800
Crystal Vegetal Dye This is the traditional pattern that defined Crystal rugs in the mid-1900s. So named because of proximity to Crystal Trading Post in the Chuska Mtns north of Gallup. Dominate was the wavy lines around designs. The rug was woven in 1962. It has good straight lines. The picture shows a sag in the upper edge, but it is due to the weight of the rug on two pieces of velcro. 4' 7" x 6' 5" $3,500
Crystal Vegetal Dye by Betty Bia. Woven in 1987. 30" x 43" Betty is a premier weaver from Crystal. She is known for her fine vegetal dye weavings as well as Yei Bei Chai rugs. $4,200
I had a particular passion for Navajo rugs in my career. We always had a policy not to deal directly with a reservation weaver unless she came to us. Dad, having grown up in a trading post, understood the economics of trading post activity. Each trading post was a micro economy on the reservation. Traders typically extended credit to families when a rug was on the loom. Upon completion the rug was used to satisfy an account, obtain jewelry, etc. For that reason we always respected traders' business by not going around them. Rugs are generally identified by the trading area from which they come. Prior to extensive road travel beginning in the 1970s, most weavers traded with their "resident" trader. Therefore, a Two Grey Hills was synonymous with the area around Two Grey Hills Trading Post. Bright red rugs were referred to as Ganado Reds. Yei Bei Chai (Yei's) were indigenous with the Shiprock/Waterflow area. I started handling rugs with my dad when I was nine years old. By the time I could drive, I was on my own trading for rugs throughout the 27,000+ square mile reservation. For years we routinely handled over 5,000 rugs per year. The number began to diminish in relation to the number of active weavers. Younger people were less inclined to commit to weaving a quality rug that might be worth thousands of dollars. Usually it takes years for a weaver to become a great weaver and by that time many were getting up in age and having eyesight issues. There are some notable exceptions. The quality of a rug is determined by the tightness of the weave, straight edges, blending of color, design, and size. Size can be the least of the attributes. Some weavers are capable of smaller rugs that fetch higher prices than do larger rugs.
This is a photo of our rug room in 1952. The room angled to the left and there were as many saddle blankets in that room.