Early, Simple Banded Rio Grande Blanket

Item #: 134
Origin: Rio Grande likely woven by a Navajo
Date: very early, likely 1750 – 1850
Media: Wool
Dimensions: 87″ x 49.5″
Description:  This is one of my all time favorite blankets.  The wool on this is faint and soft, like cashmere.  The handle is thin, like there was almost no spin to the wool weft.  The blanket is broken into 5 parts, with the center being a system of 3 lighter indigo blue bands adjacent to 3 darker indigo blue bands.  The blanket is woven as one piece, having compressed, grouped warps in the center.  There are a few indigo bands that are separated by only a few brown wefts, a quirky sort of thing that contributes my thinking that this was woven by a Navajo.  The early age has to do with the quality of the wool, the simplicity of the design, and the manufacture methods, particularly how the center warps are not doubled but are instead two ply warps that are grouped.  I have seen one other early Rio Grande blanket, also likely woven by a Navajo, that had this same construction.  I imagine that these early blankets, to be woven on a single width loom, were done in a way without doubling up the warps but instead by compressing them.  This is only my theory, and I have not seen this written about anywhere else.

The power of this blanket speaks for itself, but I want to describe a few qualities that, for me, make it especially strong.  The 5 systems of indigo and brown bands are like parallel universes swimming in a cream hued wool of infinity.  The variation of both indigo and brown yarns adds a deeper complexity giving the effect of something more powerful than its parts. I love the simple and complementary quality of the blue next to the brown. This is amplified by how some of the browns get more red, and how the blues can vary, even within a single band of indigo.  The abrash set up by this effect gives the blanket a fine layered sense, beyond just the banding system. The establishment of a center feels important, and the added attention to alternating with dark and light indigo blue adds more complexity to a simple system. It feels as if the other 4 banded groupings were born of this center one, expanding outward like ripples in a pond.  The center holds that power for me.

Price: Price on request

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