Native American art

Navajo Chief’s Blanket

I’ve just added a Navajo chief’s blanket to the collection and this item is for sale.  The price is $45,000. This blanket dates to around 1875 and measures 58 by 74 inches.  The warp and weft are all wool; the warp being a single ply natural white and the weft natural white, brown and white dyed with indigo.  The red is a wool raveled flannel, assumed dyed with a synthetic red.  The indigo has a wonderful quality of deep blue, with some variations. The brown has great abrash patterns (subtle shifts of color) found around the lazy lines offering an added richness to the eye. These qualities of shifting tones within the banding are what makes blankets like this one more sought after.

Unusual Variant Pattern

This is an unusual blanket in that it is a variant of the 3rd phase style.  The 3rd phase naming comes from the expanded design elements, in this case the stepped diamonds in the center band, that extend outside of the central band.  In a 1st phase chief’s blanket, the banding has no designs within it and whatever color that band is, the same color is used all the way across the band to both sides of the blanket, allowing for abrash patterns as found in the brown bands of this blanket. In a 2nd phase chief’s blanket, designs show up within the bands but not outside of them.  On this blanket, since the big diamonds expand outside the banding system, we have a 3rd phase pattern.

The upper and lower bands are what make this a variant. Here, the stepped diamonds have been abandoned as used in the center and replaced with a banded stepping pattern alternating with stacked bars.  Both the bottom and top bands fall within a 2nd phase pattern, since these bars and stepped patterns do not protrude outside the main banding system. For a good historical account of the Navajo and Navajo blankets, I recommend checking out this article titled The Full History of Navajo Blankets and Rugs, https://www.heddels.com/2017/04/navajo-blankets-and-rugs/.

Following are some close up photos to show more detail.  Feel free to email jamie@jamescomptongallery.com or call 505 699-0323 if you have further questions. This blanket is available for viewing in the gallery at 28 Burro Alley, Santa Fe, NM.

 

Detailed Photos

Below one sees the stepped diamond protruding will outside the center band to the extent that it has entered the adjacent brown band.  This is what defines a 3rd phase Navajo chief’s blanket.

 

This half stepped diamond on the side becomes a completed diamond when the blanket is worn and wrapped all the way around so that the to halves meet.

 

Notice here below the wonderful variations, called abrash, in the brown bands, especially when in association with a lazy line or sectional line.

Again, notice the wonderful abrash seen in the brown banding – subtle variations in the tone of the browns. One can also see the variations in the indigo blue.

Comments

  • Mark

    June 16, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    I’m learning about Navajo weavings and have enjoyed the information including your personal appreciation. The upper and lower bands of your blanket are features of one referenced in Navajo Textiles The William Randolph Hearst Collection. Blanket, chief style, variant, circa 1875-1885 A.5141.42-22. I’ve never seen a variant like yours. Lovely.

  • Jamie Compton

    June 25, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    Hi Mark, thank you for reaching out – sorry it’s taken me awhile to respond. Yes, I have admired that blanket as well in the Hearst Collection. I like that you reference it in regard to the one I have here at the gallery. I look forward to meeting you if you ever come the Santa Fe way!

    Best
    Jamie

Your email address will not be published.