6/5/2012 10:19:00 AM World's largest Navajo rug returns home
The world’s largest Navajo rug is prominently displayed inside the historic train depot at La Posada Hotel. Todd Roth/NHO
A close view of the rug’s design reveals intricate details in its pattern. Todd Roth/NHO
Todd Roth Navajo-Hopi Observer
WINSLOW, Ariz. - May 1, 2012 was an auspicious day for Native Americans and Winslow, Ariz. The Winslow Arts Trust at La Posada Hotel has acquired the rug Lorenzo Hubbell Jr. commissioned in 1932. The rug is displayed at La Posada as its initial public showing, the first in 50 years and a very long time since being displayed Winslow. The rug, valued today at $1 million, is on permanent display at the historic train depot, soon to be converted to Route 66 Gallery at La Posada, beginning spring of 2013.
Hubbell, while in business in Winslow, Ariz., decided to make the "World's Largest Navajo Rug" as a tribute to Native American weavers and as a southwest craft item, attracting people from around the world to northern Arizona. The rug is seamless and 26 by 36 feet in size with patterns not recognized today.
The patterns for the rug were provided by Sam Joe of Ganado at Hubbell's instruction. Joe was to dig up ancient pottery and find designs of very old and non-contemporary symbols. These designs were the basis for the rug. Hubbell also had a special block barn made to house the gigantic loom required to weave the rug. The building was 30 feet by 40 feet by 10 feet high inside. The loom's width needed to be about 27 feet wide to accommodate the rug width. Material for construction of the rug was acquired by Julia Hubbell and her daughters Lilly and Erma. They rounded up 60 white sheep and 18 black sheep to be shorn for rug wool. Julia, Lilly and Erma took two years to process the wool, dying, carding and spinning.
After getting the materials prepared Julia Hubbell began the task of weaving the giant rug, having mind the patterns Lorenzo wanted to be produced on the rug. She was at the loom from early morning until midnight for three years and three months to complete the 26 by 36 foot 250-pound rug. Looking carefully at the rug you will notice that it's very high quality, not crude, with bright colors not faded. There are no seams, just one continuous finely woven Navajo rug 36 feet long. Its size is one reason that not many places can display it and also the reason that no space wants to have it permanently displayed, since it takes up too much room. Luckily, La Posada had a perfect space that can be dedicated to this rug - the entire old railroad station.
Allan Alfet and Tina Mion, La Posada owners, have known the rug's previous owner for many years and have a good relationship with mutual respect on both sides. This is the main reason the world's largest Navajo rug is out of storage in Scottsdale and will be cared for and displayed for the public's enjoyment, here, where it was created.