Navajo Culture

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  • Topic: Navajo rug, New Mexico, Navajo Nation
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  • Published : April 13, 2013
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Two Gray Hills Area
Square foot for square foot, the Two Gray Hills is the finest rug that has come-and continues to come-from the post-Classic Navajo loom.

The Two Gray Hills post, along with the neighboring posts of Brinks (at Newcomb) and Toadlena (which means "water bubbling out of the ground"), are west of U.S. Highway 666 midway between Shiprock and Gallup. Toadlena is at the foot of the Chuska' Mountains; Two Gray Hills is on the plain, and Brinks is on the highway.

Two competing traders, George Bloomfield and Ed Davies, deserve the credit for the eminence enjoyed by the Two Gray Hills-the Aristocrat of Navajo Rugs.

Davies, an Englishman, arrived on the scene at Two Gray Hills in 1909. Soon after, Bloomfield, a devout Mormon, set up shop at Toadle!1a, a scant five miles from Two Gray Hills. The two men soon became fast friends. Before the arrival of Davies and Bloomfield, the Two Gray Hills rug was of ordinary quality and undistinguished design. (See Photo II for a picture of the 1911 Shiprock Fair showing the original type of rugs from this area.)

In the space of 15 years, Two Gray Hills was the best as far as fine spun yarn is concerned, and it has ever been topped in this. These two dedicated traders achieved this by long, patient hours on their knees-not praying-but going over every stitch of rug with its weaver, complimenting the fine points, kindly urging improvement where improvement was called for. In the best Indian trader tradition, Davies and Bloomfield and their weavers developed a fine art form out of the nondescript craft that they inherited in this area.

What did they build on? A rug woven of natural color blacks, whites, grays and shades of browns-still the distinguishing colors of the Two Gray Hills rugs. For gray, the black and white are carded together; for tan, brown and white are blended. The traders learned early that the Navajos in the Two Gray Hills area-unlike all other Navajos in this respect-have no affection for the color red, either in their dress or in their rugs.

The basic Two Gray Hills pattern remains unchanged: geometric designs. There is a common belief that the old type Crystal area rug weaver's designs filtered over the mountains to influence the Two Gray Hills craftswomen, but the evidence for this is far from conclusive. For Bloomfield and Davies, it was a long, hard pull, but by 1925 they were buying and selling fine rugs of distinctive workmanship, color and design. The blacks, whites, grays and browns were now being woven into sophisticated patterns-small geometric groupings balanced in the final symmetrical whole. The Two Gray Hills rug is also characterized by a black border. It can be said of this rug that the 4 x 6 foot size is pretty much standard. If the Two Gray Hills is, square foot for square foot, the finest rug coming off the Navajo looms today, then it follows that it is also the most expensive.. A small Two Gray Hills (less than 3 x 5 feet) will cost at least $100. A small tapestry of the finest weaves-the kind you display under glass-recently sold for $2000. (*)

Daisy Togelchee of Toadlena is without doubt in my estimation, the greatest living Navajo weaver. A good Navajo rug may have 30 weft threads to the inch-Mrs. Togelchee will average 100 weft threads, and some of her work has an astounding 115 weft threads to the inch!

Two Gray Hills Rugs
Square foot for square foot, the Two Gray Hills is the finest rug that has come-and continues to come-from the post-Classic Navajo loom

Two competing traders, George Bloomfield and Ed Davies, deserve the credit for the eminence enjoyed by the Two Gray Hills-the Aristocrat of Navajo Rugs. Davies, an Englishman, arrived on the scene at Two Gray Hills in 1909. Soon after, Bloomfield, a devout Mormon, set up shop at Toadlena, a scant five miles from Two Gray Hills. The two men soon became fast friends.

What did they build on? A rug woven of natural color blacks, whites, grays and shades of...
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