Southwest Traditions:
Water and Sky

Water and sky symbols have been common in the Southwest for hundreds of years. Among the oldest rock art images are wavy lines and zigzags that might be snakes, interpreted today as lightning and water. Ancient residents of the region, including the Hohokam, Mogollon, and Ancestral Pueblo, shaped shell and turquoise pendants into birds and frogs.

About A.D. 1000 the Mimbres began painting bowls with images of bats, birds, fish, and turtles while potters in other parts of the region were producing duck pots. Modern potters still use water and sky images on their vessels. Likewise, historic and contemporary textiles are decorated with water and sky imagery, including Avanyus, clouds, lightning, and rain.

Turquoise-on-bone necklace, prior to 1939 (Gift of Mrs. Philip B. Stewart, courtesy John and Linda Comstock and the Abigail Van Vleck Charitable Trust; 10652/12, Origin/Artist: Santo Domingo)