Students will collaboratively write an age-appropriate, one-paragraph description of the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug, citing specific examples from a close reading of the image and referencing the informational text as needed.
Intended Age GroupElementary (grades K-5)
Length of LessonOne 45 minute lesson
Standards AreaLanguage Arts
Students will be able to:
- experience close reading of the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug as a form of text;
- research information provided about the work of art;
- identify and research new vocabulary;
- work in collaborative groups;
- compose and present an informative paragraph; and
- cite and reference verbal and non-verbal texts as evidence.
- Divide students into cooperative groups of four to five.
- Project the image of the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug or provide a quality color copy for each group.
- Ask students to describe what they see. What do they think it is? What does it appear to be made from? What clues tell them this? What colors do they see and which color is used the most?
- Describe and define what a symbol is if students are unfamiliar with the term. Ask students to point out the symbols they see in the blanket. Ask them if they have ever seen similar ones. If so, where?
- Ask the students to relate their observations of the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug to any previous knowledge they have about blankets and designs displayed on them, and have them share their ideas with the entire class.
- Point out that this is called an Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug because of the dazzling and interesting symbols, designs, and colors. Ask students if their eyes are dazzled by a particular design.
- Share with students the information from the About the Art section to explain the meaning and stories behind the symbols.
- If age appropriate, give each group a copy of the About the Art section so they can compare the descriptive information in the written text to what they see in the image.
- Have each group identify at least one word about the image that they are unfamiliar with and find a definition for it. Examples might include warp, Germantown, trading posts, etc.
- Ask each group to write an age-appropriate, one-paragraph description of the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug. They should cite specific examples they gather by looking closely at the image and reference the text from the About the Art section as is needed. This is to be an informational paragraph based on evidence provided, not a fictionalized account.
- Compare this paragraph to the didactic explanatory information that curators write to display next to objects in a museum to give an example of why this type of informational writing is important in the workforce.
- If time allows, you might display each group’s paragraph near an image of the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug.
- Library or Internet access for research as necessary
- Pencils, paper, and other necessary writing materials, or access to a word processor
- About the Art section on the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug
- Color copies of the Eyedazzler Blanket/Rug for students to share, or the ability to project the image onto a wall or screen
- Social Studies
- Ask questions, share information and discuss ideas about the past and present
- Analyze historical sources using tools of a historian
- Become familiar with United States historical eras, groups, individuals, and themes
- Visual Arts
- Observe and Learn to Comprehend
- Relate and Connect to Transfer
- Language Arts
- Oral Expression and Listening
- Research and Reasoning
- Writing and Composition
- Reading for All Purposes
21st Century Skills
- Critical Thinking & Reasoning
- Information Literacy
About the Art
Who Made It?
This blanket/rug was likely the work of a female Navajo artist. Loom weaving was a woman’s art among the Navajos after they learned the skill from their Pueblo neighbors in the 1600s, but today both men and women weave.
Navajo weavers are justly famous for the excellence of their textiles. This style, known as an eyedazzler because of its vivid colors and dizzying design combinations, was popular during the later years of the Transitional period in Navajo weaving (1868–90), when artists began weaving for the tourist market rather than solely for home use. Brightly colored “Germantown” yarns, widely available through newly established trading posts on the Navajo Reservation, made it possible to produce these vibrant masterpieces.
What Inspired It?
During the Transitional period (1868–90) when this blanket/rug was created, Navajo weavers began to produce patterns compatible with the tastes of traders and patrons. Eyedazzler weavings are uniquely Navajo innovations, created to take advantage of a range of commercially made colors not previously available. In some ways you can think of these artists as testing a new product on a new audience.
Although this rectangular weaving is called a blanket or a rug, the decorative fringe and cotton warp (cotton is less durable than wool) suggest that its maker knew it was more likely to be displayed on a wall than used as clothing.
The red wool used throughout the background is a kind of commercially manufactured yarn called Germantown, named after a town in Pennsylvania that produced these yarns using synthetic dyes.
Navajo artists borrowed the serrated diamond motif from New Mexican Saltillo serapes. The Navajo people became familiar with the motif when they were incarcerated at Bosque Redondo in New Mexico (1863–68), where they received Saltillo-style blankets from the United States government.
Five flags appear in this eyedazzler. Notice how the artist used them to mimic the look of the American flag but not duplicate it exactly. Navajo weavers of this time often used flags in their textiles as design elements to appeal to non-Navajo customers.
Artists often included cross-shaped designs in their eyedazzlers. Despite the obvious association with Christianity, these designs may have been derived from traditional Navajo women’s dresses.