Lines on the Horizon: Native American Art from the Weisel Family Collection features multimedia Native American art from the southwestern united states, including this bold Navajo textile. Wearing blankets were actually worn in the style of a poncho. Known for their quality and purity of design, first-phase chief blankets represent the pinnacle of Navajo weaving. However, the title “chief blanket” is a misnomer: the Navajo had no chiefs. The term derives from the status of those in other Native American tribes, most notably the Plains Indians, such as the Ute and the Sioux, who wore this important trade object as a symbol of power and influence. Reflecting these trade relations, the earliest versions of the chief blanket are referred to as first-phase Ute style.
Wearing blanket (first-phase chief blanket, Ute style), ca. 1830. United States, Southwest, Navajo. Wool; weft-faced plain weave, dovetail and diagonal join-tapestry weave, eccentric curved weft. Promised gift of the Thomas W. Weisel Family to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. L12.103.17