A Native American blanket, worn by a chief of the Navajo people, set a new world record in California on June 25.
The blanket now stands as the most valuable Navajo textile ever sold at auction, eclipsing the $522,500 record price achieved by a similar piece at Sotheby's in 1989. The $1.8m price tag also drew the blanket close to the world record for any Native American artefact, which is currently held by a rare Tlingit helmet that sold for $2.2m in 2008.
The impressive price achieved by the blanket represents an 800% increase on the item's $100,000-200,000 pre-sale estimate. Known as the Chatland Blanket, the offering was consigned to auction by a descendent of John Chatland, who originally acquired the item after emigrating from Norway to Dakota Territory in the 1870s.
The Chatland Blanket is one of four other known "first-phase" examples (from 1532-1828), featuring lac-dyed red stripes, currently available to private collectors. The majority of similar blankets are currently housed in museums and public collections, with an almost identical example to the Chatland Blanket starring as the main attraction at Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.
"For centuries, the Navajo Indians were among the most advanced weavers in North America. This wearing blanket not only displays that talent in simple utility for the period, it offers proof of how sophisticated the weavers were by incorporating the red lac and blue indigo colors into the linear composition. It's Navajo art in purest form," commented the auction house's senior vice president, John Moran.
Paul Fraser Collectibles is currently offering an authentic strand of hair from the head of the famous Apache leader, Geronimo, which is available at an excellent price. We also have this rare keepsake from the infamous Battle of Little Bighorn.