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Another type of embroidered clothing, the dance kilt, falls into two basic categories: those embroidered at the bottom, horizontal edge and those embroidered along the two vertical edges.

Figure 25b

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The kiva wallpaintings at Awatovi depict kilts whose common characteristic is that they have horizontal rather than vertical decorative borders. Many of the designs from pre-contact wallpaintings are similar to those found on contemporary kilts . Although there is some pictoral evidence that horizontally decorated kilts might have been worn as recently as the turn of the century, there are no extant examples of horizontally decorated kilts.


The kilts embroidered along the vertical edges follow a traditional layout with very little variation. These kilts are worked in red, green, and black yarns on white cotton. Sometimes the maker cuts the background fabric from an old manta, as is the case with SAR T.491.



There are also kilts made from sacking that can be seen in the close-up.





Design Layout



     Despite the differences in the background cloth, these kilts are quite similar in their design layout. The overall design field is arranged in three vertical zones. Horizontal color changes break up the vertical zones, just as in the horizontal zones of the white cotton manta. The kilts feature a plain middle zone defined by two vertical lines worked in the negative, again much like the manta. A series of small triangles with diagonally moving hooks appears in the interior zone of the kilts. Variations of this patterning appear in the bottom zone of the upper border of many mantas.

A series of blocks worked in evenly spaced bars and terraced triangles occupies the main design zone of the kilts. Various geometric negative patterns appear between the blocks.



The bottom of the kilt usually features a series of small bars worked in black, and a black braid, usually a simple sprang finger braid, is attached here. Contemporary dance kilts all follow this basic pattern.



Image credits:

Figure 25b, Lower Border Decorations on Kilts Worn by Human Figures in the Jeddito Mural Paintings, from Watson Smith, Kiva Mural Decorations at Awatovi and Kawaika-a, Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, vol. 37.  Reprinted courtesy of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.

 School for Advanced Research