Textiles Before Cotton
Before they began growing and processing cotton to make cloth about 1,500 years ago, Southwestern peoples made sandals, nets, bags, and ropes from a range of plant fibers, primarily apocynum (Indian hemp), yucca, and agave.
They sometimes worked human hair into objects, as in the case of a hunting net discovered at U-Bar Cave in the boot heel of New Mexico. This net measures an astonishing 151 feet by 5 feet and contains almost 20,000 knots. Scholars estimate that it contains the equivalent of sixty-nine full heads of hair. It was made some time between 1000 A.D. and 1400 A.D.
Southwesterners also made blankets from cordage comprised of rabbit skins or turkey feathers on rudimentary looms. These looms were staked-out horizontal frames of parallel poles, upon which the weaver wound the fur or feather cordage. The makers fastened the fur cordage together by twining or twisting two strands of yucca or apocynum cordage around the individual strands of fur cordage back and forth until they had secured the entire space between the two poles.
Evidence of blankets of this type appears throughout the North American continent. Archaeologists believe they were made as long ago as 8000 B.C.
School for Advanced Research