The Storm Pattern, A Navajo Weaving Design

The Storm Pattern is a well-known Navajo rug style often associated with the western reservation, the Storm Pattern appears to have originated at the Crystal Trading Post. The trader there, J. B. Moore, published several catalogs and sales leaflets at the beginning of the twentieth century. His “Plate IX”, obviously a Storm Pattern but not labeled as such, was first printed between 1903 and 1911.

The Storm Pattern is not built around a central diamond, but is a very recognizable geometric composition with a strong, often rectangular central element connected by diagonal stepped lines to elements in each of the four corners. This design is said to be highly symbolic and associated with the all-important rainstorms in the growing season. Individual components include representations of the Navajos’ four sacred mountains, lightning bolts, snowflakes, and waterbugs. Storm Pattern rugs are woven in an unlimited variety of colors.

The Storm Pattern is an older design and is one of the few Navajo rugs that tells a story. According to Navajo mythology, man and all living things came into this world from the underworld through the Lake of Emergence, symbolized by the center design element in the Storm Pattern. The squares in the four corners represent the Navajo’s four sacred peaks: the San Francisco peaks in Arizona, Mt. Taylor in New Mexico, and Mt. Hesperus and Sierra Blanca in Colorado.


The connecting zigzag lines from the four corners to the center are intended as lightning bolts.  They carry blessings back and forth between the mountaintops, bestowing good spirits on the weaver and her household.

The outer design at the top and bottom of the rug represents the water bug, who has a place in Navajo mythology.  Just inside the water bug appears his companion, the snowflake. Some form of the sacred arrow is usually portrayed along the sides of the rug.

The Storm Pattern is easily recognized by its design elements as described above, but can be woven in an unlimited variety of colors.


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Storm Pattern by Sarah Tisi

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