Perhaps the most impressive of the embroidered textiles are the large white cotton mantas with embroidered top and bottom borders. This type of manta is popular at contemporary dances in many pueblos. Its appearance has changed little from the pieces collected between 1890 and 1930, but the materials used to make it today are quite different.
These mantas feature a broad lower border and a narrower upper border, both of which extend almost to the side edges. Color changes worked at the same intervals top and bottom vertically divide the two borders. Each of these borders is further broken down into horizontal bands, or zones.
At the bottom of the manta, the embroiderer works a band of geometric negative patterning (a), generally in a pattern of chevrons or diagonal lines joined by vertical terraces or some similar motif. Sometimes, but not always, the artist repeats this band at the top of the upper border.
At the top of this band two horizontal lines (b), worked in the negative, stretch from side to side, leaving a plain narrow band no more than 2 inches between them.
The next band (c) is wider than the previous two sections put together. The artist divides this band into either seven or nine sections, generally corresponding to the vertical color changes. Four or five (sometimes more) diamond shaped “picture frames” are evenly spaced and worked on the field.
The embroiderer works sections between the picture frames (d) in geometric, negative patterning. Embroidered motifs worked in outline and satin stitches fill these diamond-shaped areas (e). The motifs can vary considerably but frequently include butterflies, rain clouds, and flowers. The upper peaks of these diamond shaped “picture frames” rise above this final broad band. Solid triangles pointing downward surround these peaks (f).
The upper border of the manta is narrower than the lower border and may or may not have the same design as the first band (g) on the bottom. The second band (h) is the same as on the lower bordera plain section between two horizontal lines. The third section (i) is composed of small, downward pointing triangles. Diagonally moving hooks appear inside these small triangles.
As with the dark mantas, evidence suggests that Hopis wove many white mantas and then traded them to the Rio Grande area, where embroiderers embellished them.
School for Advanced Research