Tightly woven in a series of solid-color bands, in indigo-dyed and natural handspun yarns, small areas of professional restoration. size approximately 5ft 6in x 4ft 2in
Joe Ben Wheat, a leading authority on Navajo weaving, wrote in Blanket Weaving in the Southwest that "The Chief Blanket is one of the finest achievements in Navajo weaving. It was frequently, though not always, superbly woven, from the finest materials available. Basically simple in design, its beauty depended on its careful placement and balance of design elements and its glowing color. Like all garments the Indians made for themselves, it was designed to be worn, to drape regally, and to move gracefully. When displayed flat, it appears somewhat static; but wrapped around the human body it flows elegantly, and as the body moves, the design becomes as kinetic as a mobile sculpture.
Historically, the term 'Chief Blanket' is a misnomer, for the blanket was never intended to designate the rank of its wearer; nor was it worn only by men - a distinctive woman's blanket following the same basic scheme was also produced. The Chief Blanket, beautifully woven of select materials, was expensive, and so became a mark of the rich and successful.
By 1800, what we have come to know as the First Phase Chief Blanket had been developed...alternating brown and white stripes, narrow brown and blue stripes across the ends, and a double-width center panel of brown with four blue stripes, a classic example of the First Phase Chief Blanket.
The First Phase Chief Blanket was traded very widely, being especially favored by the Ute Indians and the Sioux, among whom many specimens have been collected."
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