Saddle blankets — placed under the saddle to protect the horse from chafing and pressure from the saddle — continued to be used by the Navajo long after handwoven garments became impractical. By the 1950s, when this blanket was woven, the dramatic shoulder blankets for which the Navajo are famous were made far more frequently for tourism and trade than for local use. But the often-overlooked saddle blanket continue to be used by the Native Americans, cowboys and ranchers in the region up to today.
Navajo weavers favored twill weaves to create saddle blankets, because they are stronger and thicker. But the technique also lends itself to diagonal and diamond patterning, such as this dramatic geometric interlocked design in natural colors of black, brown and off-white.