Date: 1800 – 1850
Dimensions: 47.5″ by 34″
Description: This dress panel is the earliest I have ever owned. It has all the characteristics of an early, classic Navajo weaving. First of all, the design is simply a banded system of indigo with no other design elements. The indigo dye is a lighter indigo blue compared to typically used on dress panels, which is a deep dark indigo blue sometimes almost black. To me, the lighter indigo blue suggests an earlier date. The central body of brown weft has amazing abrash with the variations of brown color shifting like colors mixing in water. The lazy lines are wave like lines that draw in the wool around it. The later, more common lazy lines are clean, straight forward diagonal lines without the wave effect. The red yarns are unravelled bayeta threads, and the dyes used in the original bayeta cloth are a mixture of lac and cochineal. The twist to the threads in the bayeta is “s”, also signifying an earlier date. I’ve included a photo of a Navajo dress panel found at Massacre Cave in Arizona. This dress half dates to before 1804 (when the massacre occurred) and has a striking similarity to this one. The final photo in the series is of this fragment – credit for the photo goes to Art Quil.
Jeann Brako (Museum Consultants of Santa Fe) has suggested that the area of red weaving showing a “beaded effect” along one band may well be where the weaver finished the piece. Here, she may have used a needle to draw the yarn through the weft since the space left over was too tight for a baton and other weaving tools needed. The forth and fifth photos show this unique band within the red just under an indigo band.
Condition: Condition is excellent with restoration along the sides, the ends and a few small holes in the body.
Price: Available on request