Saturday, July 14, 2012

Navajo Double Saddle Blanket with serrated diamond pattern

Navajo Double Saddle Blanket, c. 1920s, serrated diamond pattern in red, dark brown, cream and gray, 57 x 31. From the author’s collection.

A couple of years before my maternal grandfather, Henry Koster, married my grandmother in 1933 he and a friend took a road trip, first to Florida and then traveling cross-country to Arizona and New Mexico. My grandfather bought this Navajo weaving from a trader, perhaps in Newcomb, New Mexico.

Elmer Yazzie comments that, “The diamonds are a pattern influenced by a trader. Oftentimes, the traders controlled the weavers just as the [Christian] Church controlled the arts for many centuries. It does not have a meaning.”[1]

Southwest U.S.A. Indian art trader, Joe Tanner of Tanner’s Indian Arts in Gallup, New Mexico recognized this piece as a double saddle blanket and believes it dates from the late 1920s. [2] Unfortunately it was machine washed many years ago; however, it’s still beautiful. The piece was repaired and cleaned in 2007 by Persian Rug Cleaning of Los Angeles.

Navajo weaving specialist, Kate Peck Kent writes:
Most [saddle] cinches and many saddle blankets were made in a diamond twill weave. The Navajo typically made twill saddle blankets with two contrasting colors to create a vibrant optical effect. The most notable of these [twill-woven articles] were double and single saddle blankets, the closely battened, sturdy fabrics of rather coarse handspun yarns that took the place of the sheepskin saddle pads used in the Classic [early Spanish] period.[3]  
Growing up, my family used the thick twill-weave saddle blanket as a floor rug, which is what many Anglo-Americans who purchased saddle blankets did after the turn of the twentieth century.
  1. Yazzie, Elmer. “Navajo rug.” Message to the author. 30 Nov. 2006. Web. 
  2. Tanner, Joe. “Navajo rug.” Message to the author. 10 Dec. 2006. Web. 
  3. Kent, Kate Peck. Navajo Weaving, Three Centuries of Change. Santa Fe: The School of American Research Press, 1985. 79-80. Print.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the editor has approved them.