Currency Blankets: Textiles as Money

 Currency is one way a nation presents itself to itself. Most are only used within a single nation's borders by its own citizens. Because of this insularity, there is an honesty on banknotes—this is who we are, this is what we value—that provides an intriguing window into the national soul.

Design inspirations for Hiller Dry Goods Currency Blankets

For thousands of years, textiles were so basic to survival that they functioned as a form of currency. In Mesoamerica, the Zapotecs paid tribute in woven rugs to the ruling Aztecs; in North America, the Navajos transacted in Pendleton blankets with European settlers; in West Africa, the Wolof in Gambia used “cloth money” in standardized strips that could be torn to make change; in medieval Iceland, a woolen fabric called wadmal (Old Norse for "legal cloth") was the official currency for over 600 years. Even the Silk Road, civilization's first global trade network, was named after the route's dominant form of currency.

 

By converting our valueless paper currencies back into an ancient form, they regain a functional value that they haven’t had in centuries. 

Today's fiat currencies are purely conceptual—a penny costs more to produce than it’s worth—yet they're accepted the world over. It's this ubiquity that makes it easy to overlook the beauty of their counterfeit-foiling complexity. With our currency blankets we have focused on specific design elements of our favorite banknotes from around the world, giving them new life in an ancient form.

9 products