Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Millicent Rogers Museum , Taos, New Mexico is our visit to this wonderful collection of Saltillo and Rio Grande woven blankets.  These blankets are Saltillo style.  These were called serapes and were among the finest textiles woven in North America from 1800-1900's.  The intricacy and beauty of their design and fineness of the weave made them symbols of wealth and prestige in Mexico.  Saltillo was named from the town in Mexican state of Coahuila where the style originated.  Because these designs transferred into other cultures, you can recognize these in Navajo and Hispanic weaving even today.  There are three basic components that are easily seen as center, field and border.  The center is often woven as a large diamond.
This is a contemporary Rio Grande Hispanic weaving by Teresa Archuleta-Segel in 1982

Rio Grande Saltillo, Hispanic, ca. 1870-1890

Germantown Eyedazzler, Navajo, ca. 1890-1900

19th century Mexican Saltillo serape

Mexican Saltillo serape, ca, 1910

Many of these blankets are from the collection of Paul Peralta-Ramos:  The term "Saltillo" is used to describe the finely woven wool textiles made in several Mexican weaving centers of which Saltillo was the most famous and probably the earliest.  The classic Saltillo serape is characterized by the presence of a large diamond or circul motif at its center, and by the incredible fineness of the weave, often more than 100 weft threads per inch. 

This blanket was such an eye catcher!  Hispanic weavers in New Mexico were influenced by the design and by the early 1800's they too began to produce Saltillo patterns but re-interpreted in a rougher, more vigorous style. 

Chimayo Saltillo, Rio Grande Hispanic, Trujillo Family of Chimayo, ca. 1920

19th century Mexican Saltillo serape

Hubble Revival Germantown, Navajo, ca. 1895-1915

Rio Grande serape, Hispanic, ca. 1875-1890

Rio Grande serape, Hispanic, ca. 1880-1900

Notice how these blankets are seamed to make double width.  It's amazing to me that the weaver can make these seams come out perfectly!
Here is a pause as we look to the outside world from one of the gallery rooms--even though Taos is a high (7200 ft) desert, it's hard to believe when you are there.  But Taos is sitting on a plain and surrounded by mountains--what a place!  More from Millicent Rogers Museum in the next post!

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