Origin: Spanish Colonial New Mexico, possibly by a Navajo weaver
Date: circa 1875
Dimensions: 82″ x 46.5″
Description: This is a rare Rio Grande blanket. Only a small number have been found woven with the ikat pattern. With ikat, the design is first woven separate from the blanket and then dyed with a resist dye to result in the pattern seen. Once completed, this portion was re-woven into the blanket. The rest of the blanket is all banding. The only areas with design are in the ikat patterns found only in the indigo blue bands on this blanket – there are three of them. This makes sense since this blanket was woven on a narrow, 23″ wide loom with the warps for the other half layered below the top warps. Since the weaver can not see the under half, there can be no designs outside of banding. This is where the success of the ikat comes in. Since the ikat is woven in by an already set design, there’s no need to plan for it other than laying down the weft.
It is because of the ikat use as well as the appearance of the solo white band in the grey field that makes me consider this blanket woven by a Navajo. Spanish Colonial weavers were much more regimented and true to the design. In contrast, Navajo would often meander away from the design and do quirky things while weaving. The solidarity of the 1″ wide white band is an anomaly characteristic of a Navajo weaver. It’s like an independent idea in an otherwise very regular pattern. The last 3 photos focus on this white band.
The wool in this blanket is incredible. It’s thin, soft and very supple. The natural brown/grays are likely woven directly from the bundle of sheep’s wool. The indigo blue tests as such, where as the red and orange are synthetic dyes. The purple, however, is a natural dye but we do not know its source.
Condition: Condition is excellent with restoration along the sides, ends and some thinned areas.