Origin: New Mexican Spanish Colonial
Date: Circa 1870
Dimensions: 69″ by 52″
Description: These all dark brown Rios are rare. The weaver really used the power of the brown wool, with wonderful abrash (color changes or striations running horizontally across a weaving) throughout, to set off these fine lines of color; red, white and purple. The contrast between the deep brown and the conservatively used colors makes for a striking blanket. The wool warp is two ply and the weft is all handspun wool. The wool is wonderful to handle and is silky smooth.
This blanket was woven on a narrow loom that was 1/2 the width of the blanket. To accomplish this, the weaver doubled up on the warps so that there were two layers of warps. The weaver would then weave half of the blanket out of sight since it was below the top half of warps. The middle or the blanket has compressed warps and this is the transition between these two portions. The eighth photo shows these grouped warps in the center.
It’s possible this blanket was woven by a Navajo in a Spanish Colonial household. While the weaver developed a pattern, the pattern is different comparing the two ends of red fine banding. The top end (as seen in the first photo) has 6 fine bands of red, with two in the center being closer to each other. On the bottom end, this system has changed to 6 fine red bands with the two in the center enclosing two wefts of purple yarn. This is the only place in the blanket where the purple color shows up. The banding pattern on a dark field and as well this variation to the design system suggests that this may have been woven by a Navajo. Navajo are more idiosyncratic when weaving, often playing around with subtle changes where as Spanish weavers tend to hold to the script. The blanket has an overall feel of a Navajo weaving. This can not be proven, and is only conjecture. These are often called “Slave blankets”, those woven by Navajo workers in a Spanish Colonial household.
Restoration: There is old restoration along the edges and as well darning in few areas, all visible in the photos.