Saltillo serapes are the result of a fusion of Native American and Spanish textile traditions. Woven on narrow European looms in two joined parts, these iconic and flamboyant textiles acquired a nationalist flavour when Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821. Named after the town in the Mexican state of Coahuila where many of them were made, Saltillo serapes were designed to be multi-functional and became associated with use by Mexican horsemen. They used them as clothing during the day, draping them like shawls around them, and at night they were used as blankets, often seen rolled up and placed behind a saddle. The importance and varied use of these textiles in everyday life means that frequently serapes are found with damage or losses, the present example is in remarkably good condition with a particularly fine weave and soft wool. Although some serapes can present a dark palette with an emphasis on shades of indigo and red, the ivory ground of the present lot creates an attractive balance within the design; for related examples in the Alberto Ulrich Collection and a detailed discussion of the history and technical aspects of serape weaving, see Kathrin Colburn's article 'The Saltillo Serape: History & Conservation', Hali 79, February/March 1995, pp.80-87.