Pueblo embroidery today is the most viable and commonly practiced of all the Pueblo textile traditions, which date back more than a thousand years.
Hopi Dancers, c. 1900.
The thunder is always in the middle, and then you have the steps on the side, and the rain. Those are always the same, you can’t change.
—Lydia Chinana, embroiderer, Jemez Pueblo
The origin of embroidery as a primary decorative technique of the Pueblo people remains obscure, because few prehistoric textiles have survived centuries of climate change.
However, embroidery’s importance in the embellishment of ceremonial clothing has assured its continued use over hundreds of years.
At the same time, embroidery’s connection to private religious ritual has limited the potential of embroidered Pueblo textiles to be appreciated by the non-Indian public and the Southwestern art market.
The story of Pueblo embroidery begins over 1500 years ago, when people began to weave textiles in the Southwest, and spans the era of conquest and occupation by the Spanish beginning in the sixteenth century, through the rise of the Southwest’s popularity as a tourist destination in the twentieth century.
Today’s Pueblo embroiderers sustain the traditional ceremonial uses of the ancient practice while creating new applications of a beautiful art form that can be shared with the broader arts community.
School for Advanced Research