Teec Nos Pos: Navajo Textiles

Trader Noel’s Original Teec Nos Pos Trading Post circa 1949 [Jack Snow Photo from the M. Burge Photograph Collection, Museum of New Mexico]

Teec Nos Pos, “Circle” or “Ring of the Cottonwoods,” named after an important location to The People, rose to prominence in 1905. This weaving style draws upon Persian rugs with intricate and busy patterns, and bright colors such as greens, blues, oranges, and reds. Often these textiles are woven with commercial yarns and were brought into the spotlight on account of traders converting Navajo weavers of blankets to weavers of rugs. 

This Teec Nos Pos, woven by Irene Littleben in New Mexico, is part of the Kel Darnell and Marc McDonald Collection. The Teec Nos Pos came about at a time when traders were aggressively converting weavers of blankets to weavers of rugs, in favor of white and Eastern markets. 

The influence of this design, with its “Persian flair” has ambiguous roots; some are convinced that a Mrs. Wilson, a San Juan missionary was responsible for its prevalence, while others credit Hambleton Bridger Noel, otherwise known as Trader Noel, who established his trading post in the remote area west of Shiprock. Regardless of how the Teec Nos Pos became so prevalent, many note that this style of weaving is the “least Navajo” of all regional styles. Despite the cultural melding that has gone into the Teec Nos Pos style, the craftsmanship required to weave highly-detailed patterns often means that weavings can take up to two years on a traditional loom.

“The People’s Tapestry: Weaving Tradition in Navajo Culture” is now on display at the Moab Museum, featuring a variety of styles of Navajo textiles, including the Teec Nos Pos. In this column throughout the summer, the Museum team will feature a variety of weaving styles and their associated backgrounds and stories.  

This exhibition is a celebration of the magnificent weavings created by the Diné (which means “the people” in Navajo). Diné textiles reflect the concept of hózhóó, or balance and harmony, expressed in primarily symmetrical designs. The significance of Diné textiles transcends artistic expression; weavers beautify their world through the spiritual act of weaving and integrate their art into the web of everyday life. The Navajo weaver’s song declares, “with beauty, it is woven.”

This article was originally published in the Moab Sun News on July 16, 2023.