A rare and important Navajo chief's blanket
Lot 4297
A rare and important Navajo chief's blanket
US$ 125,000 - 175,000
£75,000 - 100,000
Auction Details
Lot Details
A rare and important Navajo chief's blanket
Extremely finely woven in a nine-spot third phase pattern of concentric stepped diamonds and diamond halves overlaid on the banded ground, with red outlining the stripes across the center in both ends, in cochineal/lac-dyed raveled yarns, indigo, white and variegated brown handspun yarns, the barely intelligible letters "EBI" inked on to a white stripe at one side, restored.
size approximately 4ft 6in x 5ft 11in


  • Provenance:
    The Silverman Museum Collection, sold by Bonhams & Butterfields, December 4, 2006, lot 4063

    The present lot is very likely one of the earliest third phase blankets in existence. For another example sharing similar design characteristics, in particular the small size of the central diamonds conforming within the colored band, see Berlant and Kahlenberg, p. 122, fig. 36 "Chief Blanket, Transitional Third Phase, 1850-1860. This blanket was collected by Thomas S. Twiss in the 1860's, probably at Fort Laramie, Wyoming. Charles Amsden notes that 'this (if the history is accurate) is the earliest known Chief Blanket to depart from the traditional pattern of plain stripes.' Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, New York."

    "Historians and textile scholars study and categorize Navajo Chief's Blankets according to the types of red yarns they contain. However, it is the quality of the blue yarn that separates a great classic Chief's Blanket from a good one. By the 1850's Navajo weavers had been dyeing handspun wool with indigo for almost two centuries, and their expertise at dyeing equals that of their weaving. In this unusually controlled Third Phase, the blue stripes give the blanket a liquid, almost floating quality. Three small diamonds placed in the central panel speak of a talented weaver, unafraid to take chances in her blankets."

    Taken from A NEW MEXICO ART TRADITION, an undated publication by the Silverman Museum Collection, text by Joshua Baer, Frank Harlow and Jack Silverman, p. 15.
  1. Jim Haas
    Specialist - Native American
    220 San Bruno Avenue
    San Francisco, 94103
    United States
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