Pre-700 CE Basketmaker Period: The Anasazi employ plant
and animal fiber to weave baskets and other utilitarian items.
700-1000 Evidence of the introduction of cotton fiber
(to Anasazi land via trade routes through Mesoamerica. With the
cotton fiber comes the technologically advanced back strap loom
and the vertical frame loom.
1000-1400 Cotton cultivation extends along the Rio Grande
Valley. Looms are found in excavated kivas of ancient pueblos.
Weaving in the pueblos probably was done by men.
1300-1500 Athapaskan-speaking people from western Canada
travel south, bringing basketry skills. Nomads who settled in
the Chama River valley, the Navajo, call themselves Diné.
1540 The Spaniard Coronado arrives with churro sheep
and the European treadle loom. The Spanish settlers are offered
finely woven cotton cloth by Puebloans as tribute. Eventually,
the Spanish implemented a system of encomienda (forced labor)
and taxes, paid in the form of cloth.
Mid-1500s Diné (Navajo) adopt sheep herding through
raid and barter. Some Spanish settlers set up treadle looms in
1638 Spanish settlers establish a textile workshop in
Santa Fe using Spanish and native labor who weave on the treadle
looms. Pueblo weaving production is modified to meet Spanish
needs, this includes the production of the serape (wearable blanket).
1680 The Pueblo Revolt halts the textile industry.
Late 1600s Some Puebloans, fearing Spanish reprisal,
take refuge with Navajo allies. Mass acculturation takes place
during these decades of coexistence and intermarriage. It is
believed that Pueblo weavers teach Navajo women (who cared for
the sheep) to spin and weave. The Navajo adopt the portable,
1694 The Spanish Reconquest of New Mexico revives the
textile industry. The Spanish government adopts a more lenient
policy toward the Pueblo people.
1790 Spanish weaving industry thrives in New Mexico.
Large quantities of weavings are shipped to Saltillo, Mexico
where textiles from New Mexico, Asia, Europe and Mexico are traded.
The government of "New Spain" has concerns that the new territory
is not producing textiles of high enough quality.
1807 Spanish government sends master weavers, Juan and
Ignacio Bazán, to Santa Fe to teach technical skills and
improve the industry. They bring the magnificent Saltillo serape
1821 Mexican Independence and the opening of the Santa
Fe Trail bring new materials and new people to the territory
which expands the textile market.
1848 The US assumes political control over the territory.
1860s Navajo imprisoned at Bosque Redondo; the US government
supplies them with Spanish woven blankets. After five years,
the almost decimated population returns to the reservation and
receives commercial yarns and dyes as part of annuity payments.
The Spanish blankets have influenced Navajo designs, resulting
in experimental pieces such as eye-dazzlers--distinctive textiles
with complex serrated patterns and vibrating color schemes.
1879-80 With the arrival of railroads, machine-woven
cloth, commercially produced yarns and synthetic dyes are available.
The commercial need for Spanish woven textiles decreases. Tourists
demand Navajo weavings that have the "Southwest look." Trading
posts are established and Navajo weavers trade handwoven rugs
for machine-woven blankets and other goods. Only small Spanish
communities in the north, such as Chimayó continue the
Rio Grande weaving tradition. Pueblo weavings are used only for
1950-60s A handful of tapestry weavers appear in NM influenced
by traditional Rio Grande and Navajo weaving. They employ contemporary
designs in handspun yarns, dyed with natural and some synthetic
Early 1980s Ganados del Valle, near Los Ojos, NM, begins
a cooperative project involving churro sheep raising, hand spinning
and weaving. Weaver Rachel Brown of Taos introduces the spinning
wheel to women in northern New Mexico who had traditionally used
a hand spindle to spin yarn. Today, Tierra Wools in Los Ojos,
a cooperative, self-supporting enterprise, conserves the best
of the Hispanic weaving tradition.
1989 Los Colores Museum is established in the historic
Alejandro Gonzales house in Corrales, New Mexico, near Albuquerque.
Dedicated to the weaving traditions of New Mexico and Mexico,
the Museum's collection of 200 Mexican serapes is probably the
largest in the world. (The Museum closed its doors in early 1995)
1998 August marked the inauguration of the much-anticipated
Neutrogena Collection Wing at the Museum
of International Folk Art in Santa Fe This
collection consists of close to 3,000 textiles and objects collected
by Mr Lloyd Cotsen for his own pleasure and that of the employees
of the Neutrogena Corporation.
2002 The Museum of Spanish Colonial Art opened adjacent to the Museum of International Folk Art. It is the home of the Spanish Colonial Art Society's 3000-object collection of textiles, santos, furniture, metalwork and more.