Native American blankets have a long and rich history in American culture. They have been used for warmth, protection, and decoration since time immemorial. They are a valued trade item and important part of Native American cultures. Many contemporary artists continue to create stunning designs that reflect their cultural heritage.
Traditional Native American blankets are often made from wool and feature intricate designs that are symbolic of the culture and beliefs of the tribe that created them. Along the Northwest Coast of North America, there are three distinct styles of traditional blankets: Coast Salish, Chilkat, and Raven's Tail. Coast Salish blankets feature bold geometric patterns, while Chilkat blankets are known for their curvilinear designs. Raven's Tail blankets are made with horizontal warp-faced weaving and feature striking geometric designs.
In addition to traditional designs, contemporary Native American blankets are also gaining popularity. These blankets often incorporate modern materials and techniques, while still paying homage to traditional designs. Many contemporary Northwest Coast Native artists are using their blankets to tell stories and share their experiences, creating designs that are both beautiful and meaningful.
Pendleton trade blankets are another important part of Native American blanket history. These mass produced blankets were originally created in the late 19th century and were designed to appeal to Native American customers. The blankets were made from wool and featured bold, colorful designs that incorporated traditional motifs such as arrowheads and diamonds. Today, Pendleton blankets are still popular with Native American communities and collectors alike.
There are also blankets made by Inca artisans in small shops in family homes in Otavalo, Ecuador. These blankets are known for their intricate designs and are often made from alpaca wool blended with sheep’s wool. Inca blankets typically feature geometric designs that reflect the culture and beliefs of the Inca people.
Whether traditional or contemporary, Native American blankets are a beautiful and important part of American and South American culture. They are a testament to the creativity and resilience of indigenous people, and they continue to inspire and captivate people around the world.