Every Navajo rug is a unique piece that starts with raising the sheep and goats, which are then shorn and then the wool carded, spun, dyed, and finally woven, all by hand, into a rug using traditional, contemporary, and historic themes. Rugs are not just pieces of home décor but rather works of textile art highly prized by collectors that can fetch huge sums when sold.

The University of New Mexico’s Maxwell Museum of Anthropology will once again hold its annual Navajo rug auction fund-raiser. The rug auction is the result of a long-standing collaboration between the Maxwell Museum and R.B. Burnham & Company of Arizona, explained Carla Sinopoli, museum director and professor of Anthropology. The Burnhams have been trading with Diné (Navajo) and Pueblo artists for five generations.

The Maxwell Museum receives the 10 percent buyer's premium at the auction, as well as the $10 per object appraisal fee at the Friday night clinic. In addition, 80 percent of the sale price goes directly to the weavers. The rug auction is the largest fund-raiser of the year for the Maxwell and the funds raised support public programs at the museum, as well as general operating expenses.”

The event begins Friday, Nov. 18, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the museum on the UNM campus. Visitors can preview samples of auction objects and bring their own Native American artworks to be appraised. Experts from R.B. Burnham & Company from Arizona will be on hand to identify and suggest the value of appraisal items.

Virginia Burnham will also feature her Native American jewelry trunk sale. Appraisals are first-come first-served and cost $10 per item (Cash or check preferred but credit card payment is also available; no more than three items per person).

The rug auction will be on Saturday, Nov. 19, beginning at 11 a.m. Viewing takes place from 11a.m. to 1p.m. and the auction will start at 1p.m.

Whether you are a collector or just interested in learning about Navajo weaving and acquiring your first weaving, the auction offers a great opportunity to view a variety of styles. It is fast moving, fun, and exciting. Browse, bid, and take home a unique handmade textile.

Because the auction is on Santa Ana land, purchases are not subject to sales tax.