Navajo Ganado rugs are probably best known for their bold “Ganado Red” colour integrated into the Central Diamond and Four Sacred Mountain design introduced by traders to the Navajo at the turn of the 20th century. While there are many different colours of red used in contemporary Ganado rugs, the “Ganado Red” – a dark red that is almost a maroon – is recognized as traditional. J.L. Hubbell was another trader who played a significant role in saving the art of Navajo weaving. In the 1890s when inexpensive manufactured blankets from Hudson Bay, Pendleton, and others began to supplant the Navajo hand woven blanket, many traders began paying little for them. Some even paid for hand woven blankets by the pound! Read more below.
Ganado Rugs (Continued)
As a result, the Navajo began weaving to suit the price, creating thick, heavy, poorly woven blankets in simple designs with garish colours derived from the newly available chemical aniline dyes. Juan Lorenzo Hubbell remembered the excellent blankets of the past and knew the artistry of the Navajo weaver was at odds with the current economy. He encourages his weavers by refusing to buy the poor quality blankets, while paying well for fine weavings. He commissioned water colour paintings of the old Navajo rugs designs which he hung in his trading post to encourage his weavers to revive the excellent designs of the past. While these designs were to Mr. Hubbell’s taste, they did not appeal to the wider market and so he slowly gave over to a bordered design although still incorporating early design elements such as the “Spider Woman Cross” He did not like the bright chemical dyes and discouraged the use of most of the colours available except for the traditional indigo blue and the deep red that would later become known as “Ganado Red”.
When Mr. Hubbell passed away in the 1930’s, the Navajo Ganado rug design gave over to the popular Oriental designs promoted by other traders at the time, but became unique in the Ganado red integrated with the natural blacks, browns, greys, and whites. Today’s Navajo Ganado rug design is unmistakable. Similar colours and designs arose nearby the Hubbell Trading Post giving rise to the Navajo Klagetoh rug design as well as the lesser known Sunrise area design.