Storm Pattern Rugs
The Navajo Storm Pattern rugs is the regional design traditionally woven in the Cameron area on the Western Navajo reservation. This specific design can be traced directly back to J.B. Moore, the trader at Crystal trading post who produced a catalogue of Navajo rugs to open the Eastern market for Navajo weaving in his attempt to reverse the decline in Navajo weaving, an attempt that ultimately proved successful. In his catalogue (Plates IX and XXVIII) he specifically attributes this design to one clan and specifically to the family of one weaver named “Dug-gau-eth-lun bi Dazhie” One of our Navajo employees, Tony Semallie, helped me to translate the name. Read more below.
Storm Pattern Rugs (Continued)
He believes it literally means “The sister of the man whose whiskers are like mohair.” J.B. Moore states in the description that the Storm Pattern rugs design was rooted in Navajo mythology and that for superstitious reasons this woman and her clan family were the only people who would weave the design. He was attempting to encourage more weavers to make this design for him and I don’t know if a part of this weaver’s family or another weaver brought the design to the Cameron area. Jean Mann, a master rug weaver that used to weave at the Cameron Trading Post before she got older explained the design to me. She told me that the center of the rug, in the square part, was the weaver’s home or the weaver’s Hogan. Lightning connects the weaver to the four sacred mountains that form the border of Dinetah, or Navajoland.
These mountains are the squares in each corner of the rug. The rain is the warp of the rug. Centipedes flank the Hogan on each side. Above and below there is the whirling water closest to the Hogan. This symbol became identified with the Nazis in the 1940s and was changed to look like another centipede. In the J.B. Moore plates it is still represented by a swastika. Outward from this element is the 6-legged water bug. The whole rug symbolizes a storm and also portrays the storm as a sacred occurrence. Like most Navajo symbols, I suspect this one has many layers and I was told only a few of them. The traditional colors of the Navajo storm pattern rug are black, white, grey, and red, but one will find many interesting variations on this theme.