Navajo pillow made of Germantown wools

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Navajo pillow made of Germantown wools

0.01

circa 18" high x 18" wide

4-ply synthetic-dyed Germantown wools woven sampler size and joined together

circa 1880s

stuffing is likely handspun wool

excellent condition

ex: Marcy Burns Indian Arts; Private Collection

$1950.

(mc2115)

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This Navajo pillow is composed of two early samplers, joined together by Germantown wools of the same period. It has survived the years in fabulous condition and is aesthetically one of the most beautiful Navajo pillows that I have seen.

It is likely that this pillow was made in the late 19th century, with the two samplers joined together by the trader or his wife (or possibly the weaver). We can date it by the latest wools used in the weavings as well as the style of the designs. All these wools date to the late 19th century and the designs are consistent with those dates. The railroads had just arrived in the Southwest and perhaps the trader felt there would be a larger market for a pillow such as this than there was for two individual samplers.

Please also note the use of variegated wools in this sampler. This almost certainly dates the pillow to the 1880s. These include two types of variegated wools:

The first is what we call "salt and pepper wool". This is the only wool produced by the Germantown mills that was variegated.  Wax was dribbled onto white wool and the wool was then dipped into black dye. Afterwards, the wax was removed, leaving those areas white.

The other area of variegated wool was created by the weaver herself, in which she lays in variations and shadings of colored wool. This necessarily is very time-consuming and thus it was done for a very short time, since the traders who supplied the wool were eager to get the textile to market.

Few Navajo Germantown pillows have survived the years intact and in such excellent condition.