Just because you paid for a” genuine” Navajo rug does not mean you bought a genuine Navajo rug. The only dependable way for you, as a buyer, to know a fake from a genuine is to learn what to examine. Here is a guide as to what to study. Examine:


1. the way the rug is made: The warp threads (those threads that run the entire length)- on a genuine rug the warp is continuous. The loop starts at 1 corner, runs the entire length, turns around and goes back. As you can see in the picture, the loops are attached on the top and bottom of the loom by cords that alternate through each warp look. They are whipped onto a stick or rod. The warp loops are all attached. No other type of rug in the world has this feature. BEWARE: The exceptions of this where the warp ends are tied off at one end only are: Gallup Throw, Germantown and Transitional period rugs. Fake rugs are generally woven on a horizontal loom. Especially those from Mexico do not have continuous warp loops - the loops are attached to the loom at each end.

2. side cords: The genuine has side cords alternating along the end edges. The fakes do not – unless they are added to make the rug look genuine. A bundle of warp loops are made to look real. The ends of a fake are darned back into the body of the rug.

3. fringes: Virtually no genuine rugs have warp thread fringe at both ends. Most fakes have fringes on both ends.

4. end borders: If you can find two like patterns, look at the size of the side and end borders. The genuine has smaller borders.

5. lazy lines: Larger Navajo rugs have “lazy lines” (section lines). This line is a diagonal joint or break in the weave where a weaver has worked on a single section of the rug without having to reach all the way across the rug. One section is woven and then the weaver moves over and weaves to another section.

6. material used: Wool is the standard material used in the making of a genuine rug. Those from Mexico include polyester. Those from India or Pakistan use a blend of wool and polyester or acrylic. The side selvages have bundled warps and the ends are hand serged. Those from the Ukraine are probably the best reproductions. But they are flat woven rugs with Navajo style designs and the ends are hand serged.

7. loops/inch: Look at the horizontal (weft) threads. Most genuine rugs have about 30 wefts to the linear inch. A weft around 50/inch is a high quality rug. Fake rugs will have fewer weft/inch.

8. spirit line: Fakes generally will not have a spirit line because this feature is part of the Navajo belief system. It appears as a mistake but is intentionally made part of the rug because “humans are not perfect”. This line is a small thin line that extends from the center across the border to the outside of the rug ( being it is the same color as the center it looks like a mistake). BEWARE: not all genuine rugs have spirit lines.

9. price: If you are offered a large rug at a very low price, let buyer beware. If it is too good to be true, it is probably not a genuine Navajo rug. Navajo rugs are pricey.

BUY CLOSE TO THE SOURCE AS POSSIBLE. Where was the rug sol?. The following sources do not sell fakes: Santa Fe Indian Market, Richardson’s, Perry Null, Two Grey Hills Trading Post, Toadlena Trading Post, Hubbell Trading Post. There are others – do your homework. RESEARCH ! RESEARCH ! RESEARCH !