Navajo wearing blankets are especially rare and difficult to come by and they have a very rich history as well as widespread influence in the modern world. The original designs of Navajo weavings were intended only for wear. Existing wearing blankets are generally seen in museums or in private collections, and we are lucky enough to have a selection of offerings in the gallery from the Late Classic and Classic Eras.
All the examples above, c. 1870, are made with handspun wool dyed with indigo, synthetic dyes, and some feature cochineal or lac raveled wool. Indigo blue is a natural dye that is rarely used past the turn of the 20th century. Cochineal is especially uncommon because Navajo weavers would have to ravel the material from previously woven trade blankets. The detail and master craftsmanship of each of these pieces, as with most wearing blankets in excellent condition, is astonishing. They are woven so finely they are practically water repellent. Wearing blankets were meant to stand out; the wearer would want to be seen from a distance, generally on horseback, and be immediately recognizable.
Shiprock Santa Fe has unique access to some of the most amazing vintage Native American pieces. Wearing blankets from this era are often not displayed on our website, so please inquire if you’d like to see any additional photos or get further information about the pieces seen here!