Hohokam Clothing and Footwear
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Hohokam Clothing and Footwear

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Clothing and footwear of the Hohokam Indians
AUTHOR: Linda M. Gregonis & Karl J. Reinhard

The Hohokam Indians made simple clothing from animal skins and plant fibers.

Villagers wore breechcloths and aprons. In winter, they wore buckskin shirts, cloth ponchos, and blankets. For foot protection, sandals were worn. On festive occasions they donned headdresses, turbans, headbands, belts and kilts.

The Hohokam made cordage (yarn) from cotton, milkweed, yucca, and agave fiber for weaving and sewing. To use yucca and agave, the Indians cut the leaves with a thin, saw-like stone blade. Then, using a heavy rock scraper, they stripped the flesh from the leaves, baring the fiber. Masses of fiber were twisted on a spindle whorl or rolled between hand and thigh to create long strings.

Cordage was woven into fabric on looms or braided by hand and sewn. Villagers integrated color and design into the resulting fabrics by varying the weave, painting, or dyeing the cordage.

For needles, the villagers used the spike ends of yucca and agave leaves, leaving the attached stringy fiber as thread. Or, they fabricated needles from bone slivers or the long needles of barrel cactus. They also used bone awls in weaving and leather working.

Animal skins were made into clothing. Tanned deerskins made fine shirts and sandals. To use rabbit and other small animal furs, Indians cut the prepared skins into narrow strips and attached the strips end-to-end. Then, using one or two of the long strings of fur, they twined the strips around a plant-fiber cordage base.

The fur and cordage strings were then made into blankets. Woolen clothing was unknown in the Southwest until the 1600s, when the Spanish brought domestic sheep into the region.

The Hohokam also adorned themselves with jewelry. They wore bracelets, rings, earrings, necklaces, and nose plugs. Jewelry was made from seashells, semi-precious stones, pieces of pottery, and bone. The Hohokam probably painted themselves as well.

Excerpted from the book, 'Hohokam Indians of the Tucson Basin' by Linda M. Gregonis & Karl J. Reinhard.
Copyright 1979.The Arizona Board of Regents

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