Although this is by far not the most beautiful example, early Navajo Saddle Blankets are among the most lovely and interesting objects of art created. While most American Indian art collectors prefer the large (and remarkable) chief blankets and intricate rugs, the modest little saddle blanket with a simple, utilitarian elegance and design are not to be ignored.
Also known as "empty field" rugs because they NEEDED no design in the middle (the saddle would cover it anyway) color and more intricate weaving is confined to the edges. They have also been known as "blanks" but the empty center is hardly a void. With natural variations in the sheep wool, many actually see the landscape from which they emerged in the empty field. If you have been in the extraordinary environment where the Navajo worked, you will agree.
The textures are created by what were once known as "lazy lines" but there is movement towards eliminating the term. The lazy line, one shown at top in close-up, is a diagonal line caused by sectional lines in the weaving. (Trust, there was nothing lazy about the women who created these works of art)...and the term is itself indicative of the attitude which kept the art of native peoples confined to ethnology and natural history departments instead of fine art museums for too long.)
Saddle blankets are small (this one 28 x 30 or so, the more desirable "double" blankets are twice the size) This is also a fairly course, thick piece. A worker, not a shower. Browse the web for some much more extraordinary examples.
Navajo Saddle Blanket circa 1930 Collection Jim Linderman