Colonial Williamsburg Foundation receives rare Navajo Chief Blanket as gift

Chief’s Cover, Navajo Nation, 1865-1870; Warp: hand spun native wool, Weft: hand spun native wool and frayed wool; Gift of Rex and Pat Lucke, 2021.609.5
The Williamsburg Colonial Foundation

As America honors Native American Heritage Month in November, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation announces that it has received a rare Navajo chief blanket from the first phase of the Late Classical Period (1865-1870) in the terraced style. The weaving is the first of its kind to enter the Foundation’s collection and joins two Navajo pictorial weavings acquired in 2019.

“Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums seek to tell a broad and inclusive story of ancient American culture through the study and display of objects made and used by all people in what is now the United States. “said Ronald L. Hurst, director of the Foundation. Chief Curator and Vice-President of Museums, Preservation and Historic Resources. “At the institution’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum of Folk Art, Native American pottery, basketry and textiles will help us share the contributions of Indigenous peoples. This chef blanket is a major contribution to this effort.

For generations, anonymous Navajo women working on hand looms have created brightly colored and boldly designed illustrated blankets and rugs, as was their long cultural and artistic tradition. The earliest Navajo weavings were wearable blankets, known as “chef blankets,” made with a simple horizontal striped and banded design and format. The weavers adapted and modified their work from the world around them and created an art form of their own that provides a glimpse into Navajo culture at the turn of the 19th century. As the main blankets were made to be worn, many did not survive.

This example is a rectangular weave of a panel produced from hand-spun native wool and frayed wool in salmon (aniline dye), blue (indigo dye) and the natural colors of brown and white wool. The top pattern consists of a salmon stripe with a blue terraced pattern followed by a white stripe, alternating stripes of brown and white form the body of the blanket with another salmon stripe with a blue terraced pattern at the top. middle and bottom. Small pompoms are attached to each corner.

Chief’s cover detail, Navajo Nation, 1865-1870; Warp: hand spun native wool, Weft: hand spun native wool and frayed wool; Gift of Rex and Pat Lucke, 2021.609.5
The Williamsburg Colonial Foundation

“This chef’s blanket is a magnificent specimen of weaving,” said Kimberly Smith Ivey, senior textile curator at Colonial Williamsburg. “It’s finely woven and the blanket itself almost looks like silk. The beautiful deep indigo blue stripes are difficult to capture in a photo, but look great in natural light. “

This unique textile is a gift from Rex and Pat Lucke, enthusiasts of American folk art who have been fascinated for many years by the artistic expression of the Navajo weavers. The Luckes, who began collecting antiques, folk art, and other artifacts in the early 1970s, discovered Navajo weavings while visiting a Native American art gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, and thought that it would be a fitting addition to their folk art collection. Today the Luckes like to live among their collections in their Nebraska home.

“We are delighted to be able to donate this blanket to the Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums. This was an important part of our collection, and art museums will be a great home for it, ”said Rex and Pat Lucke. “The artistic and weaving skill of the Native American weaver who mixed the Greek key design with the traditional motif of the first phase of the Navajo is evident, and this is a testament to the weavers who were able to broaden their horizons over the course of this late classical historical period. We are convinced that visitors will enjoy seeing it during the times when it is on display in art museums.

Although this gift is not currently on display in art museums, Navajo Weaves: Adapting Tradition, a new exhibition that opened in September, can be seen at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum until December 2022. Navajo Weaves presents six extraordinary weavings from the Lucke Collection, none of which have been exhibited before at Colonial Williamsburg.

Additional information on the Art Museums and Colonial Williamsburg as well as tickets are available online at, by calling (855) 296-6627 and following Colonial Williamsburg at Facebook and @colonialwmsburg on Twitter and Instagram.

About Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums

The Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum of Folk Art and the DeWitt Wallace Museum of Decorative Arts, both located in their newly expanded building which offers an additional 65,000 square feet, 25% more gallery space and plenty of improvements for the visitor to live. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is home to the country’s first collection of American folk art, with more than 7,000 objects of folk art made to date. The DeWitt Wallace Museum of Decorative Arts features the best of British and American fine and decorative arts from 1670 to 1840. The Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums are located at 301 South Nassau Street in Williamsburg, Virginia. Open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

About the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Colonial Williamsburg operates the largest living history museum in the world, preserving the capital of 18th century Virginia as a fully functional city. Fun and engaging experiences transport guests back in time and highlight the relevance of America’s founding era to contemporary life. The Colonial Williamsburg Experience includes over 600 restored or reconstructed buildings, historic shops, renowned museums of decorative and folk art, extensive educational programs for students and teachers, accommodation, culinary options ranging from from historic taverns to casual or elegant restaurants, the 45-hole Golden Horseshoe Golf Club designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and his son Rees Jones, a full-service spa and fitness center run by Trilogy Spa, swimming pools, retail stores and gardens. Philanthropic support and revenues from admissions, products and hospitality operations support educational programs and preservation initiatives at Colonial Williamsburg. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization; philanthropic support and revenues from admissions, products and operations support its educational programs and preservation initiatives.

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