Classic Saltillo sarape

Spanish Colonial
c. 1725–1775
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General Description

The Saltillo sarape is a large, elaborately patterned wearing blanket for men that was woven in several towns of northern Mexico from about 1725 to 1850. Of the weaving centers that produced these textiles - Saltillo, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, and Zacatecas - Saltillo was the best known, and its name became firmly associated with this tapestry-woven blanket. The extraordinary weaving skill and masterly design of the earliest pieces in this tradition have earned them the designation "classic." Characteristic design elements include a central lozenge of concentric diamonds, a field of narrow vertical stripes composed alternately of small diamonds and zigzags, and prominent geometric-patterned borders that act as a frame. Some sarapes have a field of tiny dots or an allover design of diamonds rather than the diamond and zigzag stripes. The dominant color is usually red or blue. Although the classic period of Saltillo sarape weaving ended by about 1850, the popularity and legendary influence of the style continued. After Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, the sarape became a national symbol that was associated with patriotism and with Mexican horsemanship. To the north, weavers in the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico and Colorado produced interpretations of the sarape, and Navajo weavers in Arizona adopted and redefined characteristic Saltillo designs. To the south, in Guatemala, men in San Miguel Totonicapán wore a variation of the sarape as a ceremonial poncho around 1900, and the Saltillo was the prototype for many twentieth-century blankets woven in the town of Momostenango. "Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection," page 209