From the back cover: Navajo saddle blankets are among the most under appreciated art forms in the American Southwest, the Cinderella of Navajo textiles. Both maker and user generally have seen them as utilitarian objects to be worn out and discarded. As a result, we do not adequately appreciate them as an art form within the Navajo weaving tradition. By the same token, we tend to ignore designs and weaving techniques that are particular to saddle blankets, for this is the area where double weaves, the two-faced, the tufted angoras, and especially the twills come into their own. And finally, we miss the lively interaction of this form of textile with the great cowboy culture of the West.
Saddle blankets have played a key role in Navajo life both as utilitarian objects and as a force in the economic sustainability of modern Navajo life. They represent a material link between Navajo weavers and traders. This modest textile has found a context in the cattle industry, inside rural cabins, on the floors of eastern bungalows, on the walls of art museums, and even on horseback. It has served countless cultural and utilitarian demands placed on it over the last century and a half, with no sunset in sight.