Rug of the Day: A Trip to Red Mesa in a Chrysler Touring Car

1920's Red Mesa Pictorial

This 1920's Red Mesa style pictorial rug is hangng at Los Poblanos in Albuquerque, NM.

1920's Red Mesa Pictorial

Click for a larger picture! The rug hangs in a fairly narrow hallway and this was as close as I could get.

Tempe, AZ In 2008, I had the chance to spend a couple of days at the Los Poblanos Inn and Cultural Center in Albuquerque.   The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and began its history as the home of the Simms family, who helped found the Creamland Dairy business.  The residences on the property were designed by John Gaw Meem, an architect who is identified as the “Father of the Santa Fe Style”.

During the stay, I had the chance to tour the La Quinta Cultural Center, which is adjacent to the Inn and found this rug in a narrow hallway.  I mean a really narrow hallway.  I literally could not get far enough away from the rug in the hallway to get a full picture of it, and the one at right was the best that I could do to give an idea of the scale of the rug, which was probably five feet by seven feet.

As you can see, the rug has multiple elaborate borders, which are evocative of Teec Nos Pos designs, but the Eyedazzler design in the center moves it to the Red Mesa area, about 20 miles west of Teec Nos Pos.  The weaver included some beautiful pictorial feathers and two very well rendered touring cars complete with hood ornaments and one with a Chrysler name plate to remove all doubt as to make.  The wool is handspun and handcarded and is colored with both commercial aniline and natural dyes.    Both the type of wool used and the type of car help to date the rug to the late 1920’s.  The Chrysler Touring Car started production in 1924 and the type of wool used is Navajo-Churro, which the U.S. government forced  the Navajos to replace  in the 1930’s with a Merino/Rambouillet mix of sheep in a misguided and tragic attempt to deal with overgrazing of range lands.

The Los Poblanos staff knew that the rug was Navajo, but that was all, so it was fun to tell them more about it.  I’m hoping that the next time I go back, they may have moved it out of that hall!

Hagoshíí (so long for now)

Mary Walker

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