Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Receives Rare Navajo Chief’s Blanket

Chief’s Blanket, First Phase; America, Navajo Nation; 1865-1870; Gift of Rex and Pat Lucke (Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

WILLIAMSBURG — The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (CWF) has announced that it has received a rare Navajo Chief’s Blanket as a gift.

This blanket, identified as a Navajo First Phase Chief’s Blanket, which is a woven piece that was created during the late classic period from 1865-1870 is designed in the terraced style.

The rare weaving was given to the Foundation by Rex and Pat Lucke, who are noted American folk art enthusiasts. The CWF release states that the couple has a particular fascination with the artistic expression of Navajo weavers.

“The artistic and weaving skill of the Native American weaver who blended the Grecian Key design with the Navajo’s traditional First Phase Pattern is obvious, and it is a testament to the weavers who were able to expand their horizons during this historic Late Classic Period,” said the Luckes. “We are confident visitors will appreciate seeing it during periods when it is on display in the Art Museums [of Colonial Williamsburg].”

A Nov. 1 press release from CWF notes that this is the first piece of its kind to join the Foundation’s collection. It will join two other Navajo pictorial weavings in the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg’s collection in which the CWF acquired in 2019.

“We are pleased to be able to donate this blanket to the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg,” said Rex and Pat Lucke. “It was a significant item in our collection, and the Arts Museums will be a great home for it.”

This past September, the Art Museums opened a temporary exhibit, Navajo Weavings: Adapting Tradition, in the Museums’ Mary B. and William Lehman Guyton Gallery. This exhibit features six other pieces from the Luckes’ collection. The exhibit displays the unique brilliantly colored pictorial designed weavings of Navajo women at the end of the 19th century. The exhibition will teach guests about what was important to the Diné (a Navajo term meaning “the People”).

While the Navajo First Phase Chief’s Blanket is not on display as part of the exhibit, it still boasts an extraordinary look into this beautiful collection of art and of Navajo culture. Navajo Weavings: Adapting Tradition is scheduled to remain on display through December 2022.

“The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg seek to tell a broad and inclusive story of early American culture through the study and display of objects made and used by all peoples of what is now the United States,” said CWF’s Chief Curator and Vice President of Museums, Preservation, and Historic Resources Ronald L. Hurst. “At the institution’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, American Indian pottery, basketry, and textiles will help us to share the contributions of indigenous peoples. This Chief’s Blanket comes as a major contribution to that effort.”

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