With its five simple yet powerful hand motifs, which symbolize friendship, this Osage woman's wearing blanket is a splendid example of Native American textile art. Large wearing blankets with ribbon-appliqué borders, such as this one, developed in Oklahoma around the turn of the twentieth century, particularly among the Osage and Oto peoples. They reached a peak in production during the height of the oil boom in Oklahoma in the 1920s and 1930s. During this period, Osage families made substantial sums from the oil on their lands, and their lifestyle became increasingly comfortable. Accompanying this prosperity was an elaboration of dress that marks the high point in Osage fashion. Beautifully patterned wearing blankets like the present example became a necessity for all important occasions. Draped across the back and folded across the shoulders, such blankets are still worn today by prominent Osage women.
[Andrew Gray, Pawhuska, OK, until 1978]; Ralph T. Coe, Santa Fe, NM, 1978–2002