Navajo Blankets: A Collection from The Laboratory of Anthropology

By: Hannah Payne

In celebration of Native American History Month, the Arts and Special Collections Research Center would like to highlight Navajo Blankets: a collection comprised of 15 prints pulled from the 400+ remarkable examples of Navajo textiles located at The Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

(“Plate 2: Period, 1850 to 1875. Size 54 by 70 inches. Design of the classical period, with fine hand-spun white and indigo blue raveled material for light green, and both raveled bayeta and Saxony yarn for the reds.”– pulled from booklet)

Created with the intent to demonstrate the widest breadth of technique, color, style, and pattern, these textiles date from 1850 to 1910 and stand as a true hallmark to the incredible skill and mastery of weaving achieved by the Navajo. As a part of the Laboratory of Anthropology’s mission, they seek to “serve as a center of stewardship, knowledge, and understanding of the artistic, cultural, and intellectual achievements of the diverse peoples of the Native Southwest” (Museum of Indian Arts and Culture This collection is both a reflection of the outstanding artistic and cultural achievements of the Navajo as well as an important work that both honors and highlights the unmatched level of craftsmanship they have achieved.

These images cover only a few of the textiles prints within the collection. Ranging from earth tones to bright pinks and reds, these textiles weave a unique story specific to each individual artist. We encourage everyone to come experience the beauty of these prints for yourselves and invite those interested to schedule a visit with the Arts and Special Collections Research Center to both view these textile prints in person and learn about the history of Navajo weaving (Navajo Blankets: E98 .T35 S3).

(“Plate 12: Period, about 1890. Size 53 by 70 inches. Zoned design of medium hand-spun wool for white, native dyed black, and aniline dyes for red and purple, the latter much faded” –pulled from booklet)
(“Plate 6: Period, about 1875. Size, 52 by 70 inches. Antique “Chief” type of fine hand-spun wool for the white, natural brown-black and indigo blue, with raveled bayeta for the red”– pulled from booklet)
(“Plate 7: Period, about 1875. Size, 60 by 76 inches. “Chief” type of medium hand spun wool for white, native dyed black, indigo blue, aniline red.” – pulled from booklet)
“Plate 15: About 1880. Size, 50 by 75 inches. Unusual design with zones of vari-colored zigzags, produced by the “wedge-weave” technique, in which the colored weft spreads follow the direction of the zigzags. Course soft hand-spun wool throughout. In the zigzags are native brown-black, aniline reds and orange.” – pulled from booklet)

If you’d like to see more of these beautiful prints, please join us in the Arts and Special Collections Research Center. Schedule a visit!

Many thanks to Hannah Payne, one of our brilliant and talented student assistants, for her research into this unique item and sharing through our blog. Sic ’em!!!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sha Towers says:

    nice work, Hannah!

    1. Hannah Payne says:

      Thank you!

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