In Navajo, teec nos pos means “circle of cottonwoods,” an area offering relief from the semi-arid desert with a promise of food, water and shade.
The Navajo art of weaving is a tradition that has evolved over time and continues to be a rich source of cultural identity, as well as a source of economic revenue. The style of weaving that emerged from the Teec Nos Pos canyon region in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest is one of the most distinctive regional styles of Navajo weaving.
In 1905 Hambleton Bridger Noel traveled to the Navajo Reservation, established a trading post at the mouth of the Teec Nos Pos canyon, and adopted the name for his post. While the weaving being produced in the area already bore some of the distinctly unique characteristics of what was later to be called the Teec Nos Pos style, the weaving style itself was named for the trading post that influenced the development and marketing of the weavings produced in the region.
The railroad, which arrived in the Southwest in the late 19th century, facilitated the development of an East Coast market for Navajo weaving. Teec Nos Pos weavings were popular as floor coverings, and reached quite large dimensions in what is considered to be the Classic Period (1925 – 1945). While traders influenced design choices and provided new weaving materials, Navajo weavers molded these elements to their own aesthetic. Parallels are often drawn between Teec Nos Pos weavings and Eastern carpet designs from the Caucasus region of Central Asia, which were popular in the United States at the turn of the century. Geometric and non-native motifs have been adopted and adapted over time, blending with distinctly Navajo iconography to create an eclectic fusion of many cultural design elements.
Characterized by symmetrical and elaborate central designs surrounded by complex borders, Classic Period Teec Nos Pos weavings combine handspun natural wool with jewel-toned commercial yarns. The border designs are proprietary, with specific borders belonging to distinct families, although no record exists of who the individual weavers were.
As a businessman with the Kerr-McGee Company, collector Edwin L. Kennedy began traveling to the Southwest and forming his collection of nearly 700 Native American textiles in the 1950s. The textile collection covers all major historical time periods and styles of Navajo weaving, from the mid-1800s to the 21st century.