The Navajo tribe is the largest recognised Native American Indian tribe in the United States. The name 'Navajo' was first used in the 1640s, when a Navajo settlement was established in an area around the region that is now Santa Fe, New Mexico, US. Scroll down for Navajo design history and inspirations.
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Navajo weaving traditions are some of the richest in world history. Using an upright loom, Navajo people created geometric patterns using homemade grey, white and black wool plus wool dyed using natural dyes like indigo and cochineal - extracted from a beetle can you believe. Using only a few colours, vivid and distinct patterns were created for weaving into serapes, shawls that covered the head; cushioning blankets, and chief's blankets, thick, wide blankets reserved for the elite members of the tribe and draped from head to toe, often held in place with leather or a pin.
The beautiful patterns created by the Navajo have been prized since they came into existence, eventually resulting in them being produced and sold around the globe. Traders often used a 'signature' pattern to distinguish themselves, using a combination of diamond patterns, banded geometric patterns and woven colours that evoked the dusty red desert landscapes that were home to the Navajo reservation.
Today, these patterns and Navajo materials have been inspiration for design by major fashion houses all over the world. Navajo-inspired prints are available in an array of products and many designers have taken colour inspiration from this trend too, using the raw, natural colours of traditional Navajo patterns in their designs. The result is a distinct break away from contemporary fashion and an infusion of ethnic prints with solid colours for a striking look with a bohemian flavour.