National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Saddle Blanket Saddle Blanket
Rendered by Ethel Dougan (artist), c. 1930
watercolor, graphite, and colored pencil on paperboard
overall: 40.7 x 50.8 cm (16 x 20 in.) Original IAD Object: 26" wide; 94" long
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Folk Arts of the Spanish Southwest from the Index of American Design
Object 21 of 25

In 1939 the saddle blanket portrayed in this rendering belonged to J. G. Trescony, owner of Rancho San Lucas in Monterey County, California. It is made of hand-spun woolen thread dyed with native dyes. Since there was no blanket-weaving tradition among Native Americans in California, it is unlikely that Trescony's blanket was made in this region. It seems most closely related to a hybrid style of blanket-weaving that evolved through overlapping traditions among indigenous peoples and Hispanic settlers in northern New Mexico, along with significant influence from Mexico. Like many other Index objects, the blanket may therefore have traveled to a place far from its origin by the time it was rendered in the 1930s. The serrated zig-zag motif in this rendering probably originated in central or northern Mexico in the middle of the nineteenth century. It was one of the patterns used by Hispanic Mexican weavers for an intricately woven, splendidly ornamented garment known as the Saltillo serape. This pattern was then used by New Mexican weavers in the mid-nineteenth century. Both Hispanic and Navajo weavers combined zig-zags, as well as other Saltillo patterns, with the bands of plain stripes that had characterized an earlier, simpler blanket style. The design of the saddle blanket in Ethel Dougan's rendering may have resulted from this particular pairing of designs.

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