Navajo pictorial rugs are those that incorporate representational images of people and objects into the woven design. Such weavings were rare before the 1940s - and are often quite valuable today. These early pictorials would typically incorporate small elements (feathers, arrows, animals, and the like) into a larger geometric-patterned design. More Navajo weavers began creating pictorial rugs after World War II, often making textiles with one complete scene instead of simply using isolated representational objects. Since the 1970s, popular Navajo pictorial designs include landscapes with mountains or cliffs, trees, sky and clouds, hogans, pickup trucks, livestock, and people. Also widespread is the Tree of Life pattern, which features a cornstalk growing out of a Navajo wedding basket and has birds nestled in the cornstalk leaves.
It is important to recognize that the symbolism depicted in Navajo pictorial weavings typically has no specific spiritual meaning; these images are simply objects or scenes familiar to the weaver. The notable exceptions are Navajo Yei rugs, which include elements derived from Navajo cultural ceremonies. However, even these weavings do not depict entire sacred images; they only feature certain pictorial elements that the weaver was comfortable sharing.