Daily Art Moment: Cheyenne Blanket

[Image description: Cheyenne artist, Blanket, 73 ¾ x 55 ½ inches, wool, glass beads. A rectangular, leaf green blanket with a narrow strip of beading running lengthwise along the middle. The blanket shows some discoloration where the fabric has faded and its edges are frayed where the stitched binding has come away. Stretching across the work, a narrow strip of white beading is punctuated by five blue beaded squares that are flanked on either side by slim yellow and red stripes and rows of blue beaded triangle shapes. Four round white beaded circles with blue crosses are interspersed between the squares. Pairs of long beige cords emanate from the circle centers, some lay stretched across the beading, some are coiled.]

Green is a color infrequently seen in most collections of Plains material, which makes this beaded trade blanket all the more striking. The wool blanket, probably received from a trader in exchange for other goods, was embellished in the same manner as a tanned animal hide: a long, beaded strip was attached along the middle, in the same position as the spine of the animal. This blanket is an example of how trade items continued to be adapted and transformed into the cultural and aesthetic systems of Native people in the late 19th century, much like the glass beads manufactured in Europe.

Kathleen Ash-Milby, Curator of Native American Art

Cheyenne artist, Blanket, ca. 1875. Wool, glass beads. The Elizabeth Cole Butler Collection, 90.33.2, no known copyright restrictions

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