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How to Identify Authentic Native American Blankets: A Guide

If you’ve ever laid eyes on an authentic Native American blanket, you know there’s something special about it – the deep, rich colors and expert craftsmanship instantly strike you. Whether you’re an avid collector or simply appreciate its beauty, learning how to spot a real-deal Navajo blanket can prove invaluable. But with countless replicas on the market, it can be difficult to spot the genuine article. To help set you on the right path, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on how to identify authentic Native American blankets. Unwrap the secrets of these often misunderstood treasures as we explain how to tell the real from the faux and pair them with your own Native American area rugs.

Quick Review of Key Points

You can look for signs of craftsmanship, such as symbols and beadwork. You should also contact the tribe associated with the design of the blanket to verify its authenticity.

What Makes A Blanket Authentic?

The authenticity of a Native American blanket can oftentimes be difficult to determine. However, understanding the differences between authentic and fake products is critical in ensuring that you receive a high-quality product made by genuine Native American artisans. Authentic blankets use natural materials derived from the land, like wool and plants, while imitation blankets are often constructed with synthetic fibers. Additionally, authentic Native American blankets will have been created with a distinctive design or weaving pattern representing certain historical events, cultures, and beliefs that have been integral to the tribe’s history.

However, it is important to note that blanket production has changed and evolved over time; as such, even an authentic blanket may feature some modern adaptations or decorative embellishments. Moreover, some contemporary Native Americans create novel artistic works that reflect their current setting, rather than strictly adhering to traditional design techniques. Both should be respected as valid forms of cultural expression and noted when assessing whether or not a particular blanket is authentic.

Having mentioned this point brings us to our next discussion point: fully understanding the various tribes involved in weaving these blankets. Understanding which tribe or tribes historically produced blankets using particular methods, designs, and colors will help distinguish between true and imitation items – so let us take the time to explore this question further.

Knowing the Native American Tribes

In the last section, we discussed what makes a blanket authentic. The knowledge of a particular tribe’s symbols and motifs is beyond important when pursuing an authentic native blanket. However, it is also vital to understand which tribes use which symbols and motifs. This is essential in determining if a Native American Blanket or Throw is actually genuine or not.

In relation to this, certain fabric patterns are often associated with specific tribes. For instance, Pendleton Woolen Mills is known for recreating Pacific Northwest-inspired wool blankets while Navajo Nation has mastered the art of weaving intricate designs from wool yarn. Meanwhile, many southwestern tribes also produce blankets that carry geometric designs that resemble Navajo creations yet feature more abstract shapes such as squares and diamonds. Additionally, artists from different tribes often draw upon their spiritual beliefs by including real animals in their patterned pieces.

When looking at specific tribes’ works, take the time to learn about their cultural significance and identify motifs in the blanket correctly. It can be helpful to research individual tribal weaving styles; some modern textile businesses even provide information on unique textile creation methods used by various Native American groups. With this knowledge in mind, collectors can distinguish between authentic tribal blankets and those that merely bear a strong resemblance to them.

However, while authenticating a blanket it’s important to resist making blanket statements—no pun intended—based on preconceived notions of setting aesthetic norms within Native American communities. To truly appreciate Native American artwork in all its complexity, recognize that different tribes have different approaches to patterning and practice weaving in vastly contrasting ways for a reason: Creativity and expression can exist without having to conform to a single aesthetic expectation which is an important part of valuing an item’s authenticity.

With so much information available out there, it can be difficult to distinguish styles from one another but with a little bit of research and understanding of one’s cultural history, collectors can determine if a blanket is genuine or not. Moving forward let us take this deeper dive into a more specific region and explore Navajo blankets, throws, and more!

Navajo Blankets and Throws

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the many Native American tribes and nations that produce traditional handmade artisanal pieces, learning about Navajo blankets and throws is essential to make sure you purchase an authentic piece. Of course, there are always those who attempt to sell imitations, so it’s important to be aware of nuanced details that help you distinguish the real from the fake.

Navajo blankets tend to have symmetrical patterns and typically incorporate a central diamond in the design. Colors used tend to be bold; popular choices include black, navy blue, red-brown, and white. Each pattern has a personal name attributed to it related to these strong colors, such as Storm Pattern or Two Grey Hills.

A second part of Navajo blanket authenticity comes down to feel—the wool should be coarse, but not overly so. It’s easy for conventional mill-made cloths to imitate Navajo designs, but this particular craftsmanship incorporates very raw materials into its production. Lastly, it’s probable that if a blanket is advertised as made exclusively by hand, a label will accompany it sharing the name of the weaver responsible for your piece.

Navajo blankets are an important part of Southwestern culture, where artisans showcase their skills in creating unique pieces with a long tradition and background steeped in stories from many generations ago. Having an eye for detail when examining these pieces can help ensure you get a true Native American item instead of an imitation crafted somewhere else. With all of this knowledge in mind let’s move on and take a look at some other tribe’s weaving techniques such as the Comanche Blanket.

Comanche Blankets and Other Tribe’s Weavings

When it comes to Native American blanket weavings, few tribes are as renowned as the Comanche. Unlike blankets woven by the Navajo, Comanche blankets usually feature narrow strips of geometric designs. These stripes often represent ancient symbols that relate to the tribe’s history and faith, as well as its cultural significance. Additionally, Comanche blanket weaving rarely features fringe tassels along the border; instead, it tends to have linear patterns with very little negative space.

The differences in weaving between Navajo and Comanche blankets can be made clear by comparing pieces side by side. While Navajo blankets feature thicker fabric with intricate details, such as elaborate lines and dynamic imagery, Comanche blankets focus on minimalist designs characterized by an austere use of color and form. Moreover, Comanche blankets contain a much simpler pattern compared to navigator designs that oftentimes have a circular or geometric shape. This can help differentiate between authentic Comanche blankets versus those only appearing similar but actually being colloquialized versions of Navajo design.

By understanding the differences between each tribe’s unique weaving style, it is possible to identify an authentic Native American blanket when presented with one. While comparative analysis can help determine which tribe a blanket originates from, there is still more to look for when authenticating a piece of art in terms of colors used and design composition. Moving forward, further examination can be done in order to recognize specific elements within a blanket which are key in distinguishing its identity and validity.

  • The most important indicator of an authentic Native American blanket is if it was woven using traditional techniques, such as the double weave.
  • Look for cotton and wool threading in different colors, usually in geometric shapes and designs, to confirm authenticity.
  • Many Indian tribes used natural dyes like vegetable and mineral sources to achieve distinctive colors, so investigating the coloration of fabric is also a telltale sign of an authentic Native American blanket.

Identifying the Right Colors & Designs

When it comes to distinguishing between various Native American blankets, special attention must be paid to the color and design of each weaving. Even slight differences can indicate which tribe produced a particular blanket. For example, Comanche blankets are generally composed of two to three horizontal stripes in red, blue, and yellow. These tribes also typically featured medallions with a star in the center to represent their symbol. Other weavings may have vertical stripes instead, but they will almost always have bright colors that stand out.

However, not all blankets will feature such intricate designs or bold colors. Some primitive weavings may only consist of a single subtle hue combined with one or two strips of thin stripe patterns. This is particularly true for earlier pieces and items woven with natural dyes that have faded over time. In this case, it is best to inspect the material used as well as the construction of the blanket in order to authenticate its tribal origin.

Overall, most Native American blankets represent a unique combination of color and design that conveys the spirit of its tribe and culture. Even though some primitive pieces may not feature vibrant hues or complex patterns, care should still be taken to better identify their origins by examining their other characteristics such as the materials used and their construction method. By further exploring these more subtle aspects, you can begin to get an overall sense of any given blanket’s authenticity.

Check the Materials Used

After identifying the right colors and designs of Native American blankets, it is important to check the materials that have been used. Nowadays, some replicas might be made of synthetic materials such as acrylic or polyester. Authentic, traditional Native American blankets can always be identified by the traditional materials that are used such as wool. Wool blankets are typically soft, durable, and heavy which can make them easier to identify from other types of material fakes.

Additionally, the weave of an authentic blanket will be different when compared to a replica’s weave pattern. The dyed wool in an original blanket will have a unique weaving with just two or three rows weaved per inch giving it a dense weave that cannot easily be replicated in a synthetic imitation blanket. An experienced collector will recognize this intricate weaving pattern and the natural fibers used while non-experts may struggle to differentiate between genuine last-century Native American blankets and modern fabric copies.

To ensure you have purchased an authentic Native American blanket, it is important to look at other indicators such as the condition of the blanket and any labels or stamps on the item itself. Over time, with proper storing, the blankets made of all-natural materials can retain their strength and color with minimal damage—look for fading or torn parts that a machine-made imitation wouldn’t have. The labels, if present, should also contain clear information about the origin, designer, and type of fibers used for construction all of which are clues that can help validate authenticity.

With these tips in mind, there are other key elements that one should consider when identifying an authentic Native American blanket so stay tuned for more information about additional methods for validation.

Other Tips to Identify Authentic Native American Blankets

In addition to checking the materials used, there are a few other tips to identify authentic Native American blankets. If a blanket is thought to be of Native American origin, it should show evidence of being crafted with traditional techniques. While modern versions of traditional designs may still adhere closely to the originals, they often lack the same quality and detail that was used by makers in older times.

Look for details like colors woven in segments that run along the length of the fabric, or symbols imprinted on the opposite side to assess if it has been made with care and attention. Also, note if different colors are used in blocks along the width or length of the fabric- this is a telltale sign of an authentic product. Furthermore, signatures or initials may appear quickened into the fabric itself- these are usually symbols or letters from another language that signifies the maker’s heritage.

It’s also important to consider where a blanket is purchased from as well. Authentic Native American blankets will usually be found at reputable art galleries, online stores with verified credentials, or directly from vendors in Native communities. Any blanket found in mass-produced retail stores is more likely to be a modern interpretation rather than an authentic item.

Finally, buyers should research various tribes and their specific weaving styles before entering into any transaction. The geographic region of origin will play a large role in determining authenticity- if it’s difficult to find information about a certain product, it could be because it wasn’t made with traditional methods. It’s important to remember that even similar-looking items from separate cultures may still have some variations in composition and design due to location or time period differences.

Crucial Points

Authentic Native American blankets should be crafted with traditional techniques, such as colors woven in segments along the length of the fabric and symbols imprinted on the fabric, and should typically be purchased from reputable art galleries, online stores with verified credentials, or directly from vendors in Native communities. Buyers should also research various tribes and their specific weaving styles to determine authenticity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find reliable sources of authentic Native American blankets?

The best way to find reliable sources of authentic Native American blankets is to purchase them directly from tribal nations and organizations, such as the Navajo Nation Trading Post or the Apache Cultural Center. When purchasing from these organizations, look for signs that the product is authentic, such as a certificate of authenticity or a paper trail of previous owners. Additionally, you can also research online forums and reviews to determine if the source is reputable and trustworthy. Finally, if possible, visiting a museum or other cultural institution to speak directly with knowledgeable experts can help provide further assurance that the blanket you are considering is indeed authentic.

What are the specific characteristics of genuine blankets?

Genuine Native American blankets are recognized for their quality, craftsmanship, and traditional symbols. One of the key characteristics of an authentic blanket is its use of bright colors and intricate, detailed beadwork that includes intricate geometric design motifs. Additionally, authentic Native American blankets often feature specific icons such as dream catchers, eagle or feather symbols, suns, and moons.

The fabric and materials used to make genuine Native American blankets also provide clues regarding their authenticity. Quality blankets are typically made out of wool and cotton, with hand-spun yarns woven together to create elaborate patterns. The dyes used in these blankets are typically all-natural vegetable dyes, giving them a vibrant look that is hard to replicate with synthetic fibers.

Finally, it’s important to pay attention to the label or tag on the blanket; many vintage or antique blankets often have the tribal name or symbol clearly visible on the label. This can offer additional assurance that you have an authentic Native American blanket in your hands.

Is there any way to determine if a Native American blanket is a counterfeit?

Yes, there are a few ways you can determine if a Native American blanket is a counterfeit. First, look at the material of the blanket – authentic Native American blankets are typically made of wool or cotton. If the blanket is made of synthetic fabrics, it may be counterfeit.

Second, check for patterns that match most Native American designs – these typically include geometric shapes, such as diamonds and triangles. Additionally, look for symbols that hold special meaning to Native Americans, such as animals or natural wonders.

Third, check the seams of a blanket to make sure they are even and secure. These will help determine if it was professionally crafted or not. Additionally, examine the fringe to make sure it’s real leather or another genuine material rather than fake trim. Finally, take note of any labeling on the blanket. Authentic Native American blankets often have textiles overstretched with words and phrases in English or native languages.

These tips will help you differentiate between authentic and counterfeit Native American blankets so you can purchase them with confidence.


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