TRADITION AND TRADE
Native American Art Magazine|April - May 2020
An exhibition at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum showcases the evolution of Navajo pictorial blankets.
Erin E. Rand

In the late 1970s, Pat and Rex Lucke walked into an Arizona showroom and fell in love with a Navajo pictorial weaving, which they happily took home with them. Their collection of Navajo textiles eventually grew to more than two dozen weavings. That collection is now on view at Colonial Williamsburg’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in the exhibition Navajo Weavings: Tradition and Trade.

“The pictorial weavings collection represents a part of the country and a group of people that we rarely have the opportunity to show in our museum,” says Kimberly Smith Ivey, senior curator of textiles at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.

The earliest Navajo weavings were mainly functional, created to provide warmth, and had a distinctive horizontally striped design. But as the railroad began to change the landscape of the Southwest in the late19th century, bringing settlers and tourists with it, the design of the Navajo textiles began to change, too, incorporating pictorial elements. Tradition and Trade showcases the oldest-known Navajo blanket with pictorial elements, which dates to around 1855. While it maintains the familiar horizontal stripes, it also has imagery of six horses.

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