A Very Fine, Classic Rio Grande Blanket Circa 1860 Or Earlier

Item: 1029

Origin: Spanish Colonial New Mexico, likely woven by a Navajo
Date: 1860 or earlier

Media: Wool

Dimensions: 82″ by 55″

Description: This is one of the finest Rio Grande blankets I have ever found.  The churro wool has that classic golden hue for the white wool with silky, long, parallel fibers.  The handle is thin and airy, with very little spin to the wool making the whole blanket less dense. This airiness is also what makes this blanket warmer – the tiny air voids in the yarn are able to better insulate the person.

There are five, broad, darker bands composed of alternating indigo blue and natural brown handspun wool.  This alternating banding is often referred to as Moki style. These five bands all have the same structure, 9 rows of indigo alternating between 10 rows of brown. What varies in these bands are the intensities of the indigo blue. Most notable, the center band has consistently lighter indigo blue making it unique to the other four bands.  This is how this blanket claims its center – the center that would go down the wearer’s back.   There is further play with varies shades of indigo blue, most notable the lower right corner (see the 3rd photo).  This banding system is like a small blanket all in itself with two sets of outer indigo blue decidedly lighter whereas the center most two indigo bands are much darker.

This is part of why I feel a Navajo likely made this blanket.  The Spanish weavers are much more likely to stick to a pattern and not shift away from it. In contrast, Navajo weavers are more idiosyncratic, adding a quirk here and an anomaly there, perhaps for good reasons or perhaps simply because they can.

Like many early Rio Grande blankets, this one is woven in two parts with a seam down the center (see the final photo).  This seam is very fine compared to the typical Rio blanket, and helps to define this as a weaving all in its own class.

Condition:  Condition is excellent with restoration along the sides, ends and some holes.

Price: Available on request

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