They Wove for Horses: Diné Saddle Blankets

On view March 25 through August 18, 2013

Mar 25, 2012 through Aug 18, 2013

They Wove for Horses: Diné Saddle Blankets opens at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture on March 25, 2012 (on long-term view). The exhibition highlights both the textile-weaving proficiency of Diné weavers who produced complex saddle blankets for all occasions and the design skills of Diné silversmiths who created dazzling headstalls of silver and turquoise.

The saddle blankets on exhibit date from 1860 to 2002 and are arranged by weaving methods: tapestry weave; two-faced double weave; and twill weaves of diagonal, diamond, and herringbone patterns. By using a variety of warp and weft yarns—natural wool, cotton, angora mohair, unraveled bayeta, and Germantown—weavers added individuality to the everyday and fanciful tapestries they created for horses.

Horse trappings on exhibit reveal the great pride that Diné horsemen took in their horses and how they adorned them for ceremonial and social events. The Diné first learned how to manufacture saddles and bridles from neighboring cultures and their proficiency quickly surpassed that of their mentors. That devotion resonates still, as the horse remains a viable living force in Diné life today.

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Navajo Woman on Horseback

A Navajo Indian and His Mount

Reverse of Double-Sided Saddle Blanket

Tapestry-Weave Single Saddle Blanket

Tapestry-Weave Double Saddle Blanket

Spider Woman Cross Style Saddle Blanket

Diamond Twill-Weave Single Saddle Blanket

Top of Double-Sided Saddle Blanket

Empty Center Style Double Saddle Blanket

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