Navajo Chiefs’ Blankets

Navajo Chiefs’ Blankets are wonderful pieces of Navajo Art unique in their symbolism and creation. Below is a brief history of Navajo Chiefs’ Blankets.

During the late 1700s and early 1800s the Navajo Chiefs’ blankets started to evolve. The Chiefs’ blankets were woven wider than long.

The name came about due to the fact that they were prized by wealthy members of the Indians of the American Plains. Noted archaeologist and Navajo weaving authority Joe Ben Wheat once wrote, “The Chiefs’ blanket is one of the finest achievements in Navajo weaving”.

First phase Chiefs’ blankets were woven from the late 1700s to 1850 and consisted of horizontal stripes of black and brown or blue and ivory with wider stripes in the center and on the top and bottom.

Second phase Chiefs’ blankets appeared around 1850 and had added rectangular motifs within the horizontal bands.

Third phase Chiefs’ blankets appeared between 1860 and 1880 and included diamonds or half diamonds of red or bright colors in the center and on the top and bottom of the blankets.

Navajo Chiefs' Saddle Blanket Steve Getzwiller Commission

See the above example of a second/third phase Chiefs’ blanket recently woven by Laberta Marinito for Steve Getzwiller’s “Navajo Churro Collection Weaving Project”. (Note the third phase half diamonds on the top and bottom and the second phase rectangular bars in the center.)

Revival Chief White Antelope Navajo Blanket Circa 1990

Above is a very beautiful revival blanket honoring Chief White Antelope. The design is very close to the original Chief White Antelope was wearing when he was killed. Click Here for More