The Navajo and His Blanket
60. HOLLISTER, U[riah] S. The Navajo and His Blanket. Denver: Published by the author, 1903. 144 pp., pictorial title, 10 color plates of Navajo blankets, text illustrations (many full-page and photographic, including frontispiece). 4to, original red gilt-lettered cloth with mounted photographic illustration of a Navajo on upper cover, beveled edges, pink floral endpapers. Fine and bright, with author’s signed presentation inscription to F. A. Wadleigh.
First edition of a classic study. Graff 1939. Howes H603. Laird, Hopi 1209. Munk (Alliot), p. 107. Saunders 1014. Yager 1663. Among the great herdsmen (and herdswomen) of the West are the Navajo. In this handsome book, Hollister juxtaposes beautiful color plates of Navajo blankets from his own collection with photographs of daily Navajo life. The author discusses Pueblo introduction of sheep to the Navajo and their incredible proliferation: “The Navajos turned out to be good shepherds. Their flocks increased until, for a number of years, they have counted a half million sheep as their own. This influenced their destiny, and has transformed them from fierce marauders into comparatively peaceful pastoral people. Nearly every family owns a flock of sheep and goats.... The whole family moves with the sheep, and lives practically out of doors.... Weaving is their principal and most attractive industry. The Navajos should give their women credit for the wide and distinctive reputation their tribe has achieved solely from the Navajo blanket” (pp. 44-52).
Hollister (1838-1929) spent many years in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona among the Navajo, Ute, Apache, and Pueblo. The author harks back to historical sources, including early Spanish explorers and the Anglos who followed (including Pike and Emory). Hollister approaches the superior textiles of the Navajo loom from every perspective, including religion, social history, material culture, and environment. The vibrant color plates of Navajo blankets are the centerpiece of the iconography in the study, but these are enhanced and the makers brought to life in documentary photographs by P. E. Harroun, Sumner W. Matteson, Charles H. Goodman, and George H. Pepper of the Hyde expedition sponsorship of the American Museum of Natural History. In his sympathetic introduction, Hollister states: “I have never been in sympathy with those who think ‘the only good Indians are dead ones.’ There are many good Indians, and also many bad ones. But it might be worth while to remember that not all white men are good.” ($300-600)
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