Ancient kivas throughout the Southwest have painted murals on their walls. These paintings include images of people wearing highly ornamented, decorative clothing. Students of these murals disagree about whether these paintings show clothing that was made by open work weaving, tie-dyeing, painting, or embroidering textiles. Whether these murals show everyday clothing or ceremonial dress is equally uncertain. What the paintings do tell us, however, is that today’s ritual garments are very similar to items people wore long ago.
Brocade or Embroidery?
Other Pre-contact Evidence
Between 1935 and 1939, archaeologists at the Peabody Museum at Harvard conducted an excavation and study at Awatovi Pueblo and surrounding areas in the Jeddito wash south of modern day Hopi. The Peabody excavations uncovered many valuable artifacts, among which the kiva murals are perhaps the most spectacular. Painted in the kivas and apparently plastered over each year, the murals depict people dressed in kilts and sashes. Some of the kilts are solid color, others patterned all over, and yet others have decorated borders. Some of these designs are similar to those used today. See more designs from the wall paintings at Awatovi Pueblo. School for Advanced Research