In the late nineteenth century, Navajo chiefs in the American southwest used the textiles displayed here as coats by day and blankets by night. The history of these rare woven works, however, dates back to the mid-seventeenth century when Navajo tribes began herding sheep to make their own wool—skills picked up from Spanish settlers. The Navajo picked up weaving techniques from their neighbors, the Pueblo, By the late seventeenth century the blankets were extremely valuable commercial items traded with other tribes. The term ‘second phase’ refers to compositional developments, like red colors, four-sided shapes and patterns, which were added to these textile designs around 1850. During the third phase of Navajo chief blankets, from 1880 on forward, rectangles, triangles, diamonds, and thin horizontal lines began appearing in these works. Diamond patterns and red coloring are considered classic traits of Navajo blankets, and red threads in these works were taken from bayeta cloth from England and Spain, a durable flannel cloth later imported to Mexico where the Navajo first acquired it. Weavers unraveled the cloth, procured through trade, and then wove the red strands into their geometric forms, taking up to a year in some cases to complete a single garment. Historians argue this “classical” period of Navajo chief blanket production ended in the late 1880s with the arrival of the railroad in the American southwest, which pushed Native tribes off the frontier and into reservations. Therefore these rare textiles represent some of the earliest known Navajo weaving traditions.