A rare and unusual Navajo sarape
Lot 2104
A rare and unusual late classic Navajo sarape
US$ 40,000 - 60,000
£24,000 - 36,000
Auction Details
Lot Details
A rare and unusual late classic Navajo sarape
Very finely woven and worked in a diamond lattice of outlined and checkered lozenges, Spider Woman crosses and more diamonds fill the reserves, heavy variegation and colorful corner elements adding to the visual effect, a small slit tapestry "spider hole" center opening, in cochineal and aniline dyed raveled red, indigo, vegetal green and yellow and white handspun yarns.
size approximately 6ft x 4ft 5in

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Collected by Charles A. Lillie, 1857-1941, who was presented the blanket before the turn of the 20th century in return for mining engineering work he did for the Navajo; remaining in the family ever since.

    Cf:
    Whitaker, Kathleen, 2002, p. 229, referring to a circa 1885-1900 eyedazzler blanket: "This textile is one of the few blankets in existence that incorporates a so-called spider hole. Charles Avery Amsden (1934, 102) quoted the Franciscan Fathers (1910) saying, 'It is generally stated that this weave had to be occasionally resorted to avoid overdoing weaving.' There is no real evidence to support this theory, however. There have only been a handful of these textiles woven in Navajo weaving history; Amsden claimed he had only seen three, including this textile...Anne Hedlund said she knew of two in the Arizona State Museum dating from the early 1860s (the same ones observed by Amsden and this author) and knew of a 'few' woven after 1900, including one observed within the last decade. She claims that stories handed down through the generations indicate these were first woven during the Bosque Redondo period and used by the Navajo to peer at their enemies when their blankets were pulled over their heads (personal communication, 2000). At that time there was no association with Spider Woman, an idea that seems to be of commercial origin."

    Kaufman, Alice and Selser, Christopher, 1985, p. 39, fig. 59, referring to a circa 1865 sarape: "Owned by the Navajo leader Mariano, this finely woven sarape has a small ceremonial opening in the center Spider Woman cross design."

    The precise reason for the addition of the spider hole may not be known, and, in fact, the term "spider hole" may even be creative fantasy. However, it should be noted that the two examples cited herein as well as the present lot all do include Spider Woman crosses as part of the overall aesthetic and could lead one to believe the association was more than coincidental.
Auction information

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