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The Durango Collection®
Pueblo: 1850-1950

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Ancestral Puebloan textile production coincides with crop cultivation of "the three sisters," corn, beans and squash, in about 200 AD. Artistic expression flourishes in architecture, pottery, and textile production. Domesticated cotton makes its way north at about this time, although the use of cotton for textile production really is not significant until about 700AD.

The earliest textiles were made from wild plant fibers, animal and human hair, and fur and feathers in a variety of non-loom techniques. Hair fibers used include dog, bear, mountain goat, sheep and other animals, including strips of rabbit pelts; and plant fibers, such as yucca, agave, milkweed, and domesticated cotton. The color palette was simple - generally whatever the color of the fiber was, plus brown, white and occasionally shades of reddish ochre, yellow and black.

With the introduction of cotton as a textile material, textiles became more complex and varied. Warm robes, socks, braided sashes, nets, trump lines, and fringed aprons continue to be made, but added between 700 and 1100 were cotton blankets, belting, breechcloths, shirts, kilts cotton string aprons and skirts.

Decoration becomes more complex. Techniques used include tie dying, embroidery and weaving in complex patterns. Painted textiles and cloths are also produced, and fabric becomes a luxury good for gift exchange and trade. The Ancestral Puebloans are credited with the development of the upright loom, whose efficiency influenced the proliferation of woven cotton textiles.

The Durango Collection® includes a rare, pristine white cotton Ancestral Puebloan manta. The fibers remain remarkably supple and intact even though the textile has been carbon dated to 1250-1325AD. It was found sealed in a pot with two other pristine, white cotton textiles near Holbrook Arizona. It's sealed storage and the dry southwest climate account for its fine state of preservation.

The contemporary production of textiles by Pueblo people today continues the tradition of textile production that began with the introduction of cotton to the Southwest. The Ancestral Puebloan white cotton manta in the Durango Collection® is remarkably similar in format, construction and materials to pieces being produced today.