These Two Grey Hill Phase Two Chief Blanket blankets were valued for their beauty and an important Indian would wear a blanket proudly as a ceremonial wrap at special occasions. There are four phases of these blankets. The first phase began around 1800 and has simple groups of broad bands or stripes. The second phase, always have 12 rectangles and grouped in twos small rectangles appearing across the three widest bands, developed by 1850. In the third phase, introduced in the 1860s, triangles and diamonds appear on top of the background bands. A fourth phase with even more prominent foreground elements evolved after the 1870s. As these design elements were added, they grew larger, becoming more centerpieces of the blankets than embellishments. During the Fourth phase, Navajo weavers also added elements inside the diamonds, including, zigzags, crosses, thin lines, stacked elements, and triangles.
The use of “chief” by scholars and collectors to describe this blanket style indicates the high quality of these blankets and associates them with the North American Plains Indians who avidly acquired them through trade. the Blanket above, is a popular contemporary style is the Two Gray Hills Phase Two Navajo chief blanket (45 1/2″ x 40″). It shows the natural wool colors typical of this regional style, and in one corner can be seen an “escape line” or “spirit trail,” a light gray yarn that runs from the design through the dark border. Weavers say they sometimes are so caught up in their work that their spirit may be trapped within it. The escape line is a symbolic way to leave the textile once it has been completed.
Spirit line just below the corner.
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