The Southwest

The peoples of the Southwestern United States have a long tradition of settled life that is reliant on agriculture.

Diverse peoples with varied cultural and linguistic traditions, the people of the Southwest have long produced highly decorated pottery, jewellery and textiles. These objects form part of a cultural and technological exchange with Mexican societies to the south which remain central to a thriving market in contemporary art.

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Water jug
  • 1

    Water jar, Casas Grandes, c.1100-1400 

    Water jar

    As arable farmers in an arid environment, water management was vital to the people of the Southwest. This highly decorated jar was found in New Mexico, but produced in the ancient Mexican city of Casas Grandes.

  • 2

    Coiled basket, Jicarilla Apache, Early 20th century 

    Coiled basket

    Intricate and highly decorated coiled basketry was produced throughout the Southwest and was an important tool in the gathering and preparation of food but was also an important vehicle of expression for regional identities.

  • 3

    Woollen blanket, Navajo, Early 19th century 

    Navajo blanket

    Loom-woven blankets have long been a speciality of the Navajo people and were widely exported across the American continent during the nineteenth century. This blanket, with its simple yet elegant design is an early example.

  • 4

    Katsina doll, Hopi, Late 19th century 

    Katsina doll

    Katsina dolls, such as this one Tala-wipiki, are representations of the benevolent spirits that live among the Hopi people. The dolls are presented to children on ceremonial occasions.

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    Turquoise necklace, Navajo, Early 20th Century 

    Turquoise necklace

    Southwestern peoples are renowned for their high-quality jewellery that capitalises on local sources of silver and turquoise. This turquoise necklace was once a Navajo family heirloom.

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The Plains

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The Northwest Coast


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The Arctic

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Contemporary North America


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