Navajo Transitional blanket

"Transitional" refers to the period when Navajo weavers begin to weave rugs rather than blankets, in response to 

changes brought by the coming of the railroad to the Southwest. We call this blanket a "soft-weave" because the wool has a lot of Churro wool in it. The Spanish brought Churro sheep to the Southwest in the 17th century and they were perfectly suited to survive in the dry, arid conditions. Churro wool is long and smooth and has a lot of lanolin. The US Army killed a lot of the churro sheep when they rounded the Navajo up in an effort to pacify them in the 1860s. A few sheep survived in the canyons. Later, after it became apparent that the Navajo could not farm in the arid climate of the Southwest, the US government brought in other varieties of sheep, not as well suited to the Southwest or to handspun weaving. 


Navajo blankets with churro wool are thus very rare and desirable. They are very pliable, durable and soft. 


The arrival of the railroads also impacted the design of Navajo textiles. In response to the vivid colors introduced with the import of Germantown wools, Navajo weavers began to weave "eyedazzlers", which were created by mutiplying individual design elements such as serrated-edged diamonds. The weaver of this blanket was clearly just developing the new design. She multiplied the serrated-edged diamond and stacked it in an orderly fashion. She added borders to the top and bottom, per the traders' preference, but she was not yet willing to encase the design fully in borders. The blanket is larger than one that would have been made for wear, also reflecting traders' desires to market these textiles as rugs or bedcovers.


It is remarkable that this blanket has survived in such wonderful, excellent condition. The colors and design are very appealing.



Dealer Marcy Burns American Indian Arts LLC
Date: 1880-1890s
Origin Navajo
Artist/Maker unknown weaver
Measurements 54" wide x 82" long
Inventory View Dealer's Inventory
Contact Marcy Burns Schillay, 212-439-9257 or

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