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The earliest sheep brought to the Southwest by the Spanish was the churro, a small sheep with very long silky, smooth stapled wool perfect for weaving and in a variety of natural shades: dark brown, tan and cream.Rarely used today, despite many breeding attempts, the churro's few modern descendants seem to lack in their wool the length and silkiness, sheen and feel that distinguish the pre-1900 breed.They were also worn by both men and women, draped across the shoulders.These blankets may have been worn as ponchos, but not nearly as often as Hollywood might have people believe.The fragments show simple, conservative Pueblo Indian-influenced designs of narrow banding in alternating colors of natural sheep wool tones (white, grey, brown, tan, black) and some vegetal dyes (mostly shades of rust, yellow and green).The technique to create these stunning blankets has been passed on through the generations and it is hard to find two serape blankets woven exactly the same.

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The length varies, but front and back normally reach knee height on an average person.

The wool from the churro sheep grabbed the strong dyes, and rich tapestries of colorful stripes were created.

Because the width of the looms was only 30 inches, the rugs would be joined in the center with a seam, thus producing the symmetrical designs of larger pieces.

The Navajo--who may have come together as an amalgamation of several tribal and clan cultures of the Southern Plains to form their own distinctive culture less than one hundred years before the Spanish Conquest-- are linguistic relatives (Athapascan) of the Apache and are generally considered to have had, in the16th century, a culture more similar to Plains nomadic hunter-raiders than to the Pueblo sedentary-agrarian cultures.

The Pueblo tribes grew cotton and wove blankets and garments on a distinctive pueblo loom hundreds of years before the Spanish arrived (these weaving skills perhaps brought up by Indians from what is now Mexico and Central America), yet it was the Spanish who first introduced sheep to the Southwest.

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