Manta and Pueblo Dresses


Mantas were woven with all cotton, all wool, or a combination of the two.  The early wool mantas (c.1800-1890) had a natural brown wool center done in a diagonal twill weave, with end panels dyed in indigo blue woven with a diamond twill technique.  After about 1880 to 1885, the centers and ends were over-dyed black.  The Zuni type is distinguishable from the Hope by the inclusion of three raised ridges (referred to as "hills and valleys") above both end panels.  Mantas from the northern Rio Grande pueblos are simpler than those of the Hopis and Zunis.


Unlike Navajo dresses, which are woven in two separate panels and stitched together, Pueblo dresses are basically woolen mantas that are folded in half.  They are worn under the left arm, pinned on the right shoulder, and belted at the waist.  As with mantas, the end panels are usually done in diamond twill and the center in diagonal twill.  Until the early 1880's, the ends were dyed with indigo and the centers were natural brown; later, dresses were dyed black.

Dress and manta weaving died out in the Rio Grande pueblos by the early 1880's, but continued at the Hopi and Zuni villages.  Today, the traditional costume has become almost totally Americanized:  Anglo-American clothing predominates, with the addition of fringed shawls.  Traditional garments are now worn only at ceremonies and special occasions.