Rug of the Day: Visions of a Magic Carpet by Ella Mae Nez

Burntwater by Ella Mae Nez

66″x86″ Oriental carpet design in Burntwater Colors by Ella Mae Nez

Tempe, AZ With so much of our news centered on the Middle East today, I immediately sought out a picture of this magnificent rug woven in 2007-2008 by Ella Mae Nez.  Nominally this design is a Burntwater, but in many ways it can be seen as a magic carpet that shows how the vision and imagination of a weaver can be molded by her experiences.  Ella Mae is one of many Navajo people who have served in the armed services and she spent a tour of  duty in Iraq.   While she was there, she photographed as many of the locally woven rugs as she could and developed the pattern for this weaving after she arrived home.   The rug was entered into the 2008 Gallup Inter-tribal Ceremonial, where it won best in class for Burntwater weavings.  Ella Mae was true to the scale of the Middle Eastern rugs that she was emulating, sizing her weaving at an impressive 5′ 6″ x 7′ 2″.

The rug is woven with vegetally dyed Burnham’s #1 yarns and the picture was taken at R.B. Burnham and Co. on August 11, 2008 using a Canon Powershot G7 camera.    The weaving sold for approximately $19,000 or about $482 per square foot.  I’m not aware of any additional rugs of this type that Ella Mae has woven, so this may prove to be one a of a kind.  Let’s hope that the weavers everywhere in the Middle East, whether they are in the service or native to the region can increasingly focus on their art.  The world could use more magic carpets.

Detail of Oriental design by Ella Mae Nez

Hover your mouse over the picture see the details close up.


Hagoshíí (so long for now)

Mary Walker

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  1. theresa/fibercrone on May 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm


  2. barb troje on May 3, 2011 at 8:47 am

    awesome rug!. thanks for your Rugs of the Day!

  3. Mary Walker on May 2, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    I don’t know the service branch or unit details, but she wasn’t able to do any weaving while she was there so she used her time to think of designs.

  4. Jayne Reed on May 2, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Hey! A weaver who was another woman warrior!! What was her MOS? What unit was she in Iraq with? Did she get any spinning or weaving done while she was “in”? I used to knit lace when I was active duty in Germany.