Navigation (in separate window)

Homepage Art History on Stamps

Search Google

Pueblo Art

Back to Index

The Pueblo people are native Americans living in compact villages of stone or adobe in north-western New Mexico and north-eastern Arizona. They belong to four distinct linguistic groups, but the cultures of the different villages are closely related.

In the eastern villages, located along the upper Rio Grande near Santa Fe and Albuquerque, the Tanoan and Keresan languages are spoken. Two Keresan pueblos, Acoma and Laguna, along with the Zuņi and Hopi pueblos, make up the western villages. Since about 1700 the Zuņi have been concentrated in one large village in westernmost New Mexico. Their language shows no certain relation to any other language. The Hopi live on or near three mesas in north-eastern Arizona. Their language is part of the Uto-Aztecan language family.

Present-Day Life 
The communal building of a present-day pueblo is a solid structure of adobe bricks or stone set in clay and mortar. The rooms are square, with thick, flat roofs. They are built in terraced storeys, and the roof of one level is reached by a movable ladder from the level below. Traditionally, access to the interiors is by ladders to trapdoors in the roofs, and the outer walls have neither windows nor doors (originally a precaution against attackers). Modern buildings, however, often have glass windows and hinged doors. Rooms are added to the original structure as needed, and a whole village often lives in a single complex building. Each village has at least two, and usually several, kivas.

USA 1977. Pueblo Art. Scott 1706-1709. Zia Pot, San Ildefonso Pot, Hopi Pot. Acorna Pot.

The Pueblo economy is based on agriculture, supplemented by raising livestock and, often, by the sale of handicrafts. Each village cultivates fields in common. The crops include maize, beans, cotton, melons, squashes, and chili peppers. Men generally work the fields, weave, build houses, and conduct ceremonies; women prepare food, care for children, make baskets and pottery, and carry water. They often help with gardening (as they did in ancient times when hunting was important) and in building the houses.

Each community has an individual style and technique of basketry. Pueblo pottery is characterized by a beauty of decoration and shape that is unique among modern Native Americans, and the work of certain Pueblo potters is highly prized by art collectors. Pueblo men continue to be skilled weavers, producing cotton and woolen clothing and fine woolen blankets.  

During the 20th century, low incomes, poor health care, poor schooling, and in some pueblos, unemployment, together with a clash of values with the dominant, mainstream American culture, have led to significant anger and social distress. Most Pueblo who have left their villages return from time to time to regain contact with the social and religious values of their tradition. 

Source: Microsoft Encarta 2002. 

More Folk Art and Native Art on this site:

Back to Index


Navigation (in separate window)

Homepage Art History on Stamps

Search Google

Revised 24-jul-2006. Ann Mette Heindorff
Copyright Š 1999-2007. All Rights Reserved

Homepage Heindorffhus