Navajo Slave Blanket
ca. 1880
78" x 53"
Textile, Native hand spun wool; dyes are aniline
Region: Navajo
Culture: Navajo
Slave blankets were woven on upright looms by Navajo who were captives living in Spanish or Mexican households. Over the decades many of these individuals became accepted members of Hispanic families, and later generations of weavers were products of intermarriage. As a result, cross-cultural weaving traits were shared, and many textiles born from the two traditions have been seen as atypical for each group. Two aspects in this Navajo blanket have qualities that are Hispanic influenced. The first is the dye colors and the way they are arranged. The Hispanic preference for soft colors, such as light pink, soft light yellow, plum, lavender, violet, magenta, pale blue, pale green, and apricot, is clearly evident in this piece. The second aspect is the unique system of two-ply, z-spun, S-twist warping technology most often associated with the Hispanic method. The lazy lines in this blanket, however, are predominately a Navajo trait.