If you have had the opportunity to look at the beautiful Indian art in public museums, chances are you have witnessed what the Southwest Indians are known for. Art was and still is extremely important to the Southwest Indians. It is a tool to help them communicate their dreams, visions, and beliefs to each other and to the rest of the world. The Southwest Indians are most known for their pottery and basket making skills; however that is just a sample of what the Southwest Indians could do with their hands. The pottery they produced was made for everyday use, including cooking, storage, bathing, and religious ceremonies. All of the pieces were painted and carved carefully with designs that told a story. Nobody knows just how long these pieces took to create.
Earthenware, as we know it today, is the closest to the ancient art of the Southwest Indians. However, it is considerably softer and coarser in texture than the authentic Indian pieces. Outside of pottery, the Southwest Indians were probably more skilled in making baskets than any other Indian group of their time. They were exquisitely decorated with colors and patterns. They were very symbolic, like all of the art they created.
Another example of their ancient art was Kachina dolls, dolls that were hand carved out wood by the Zuni and Hopi Southwest Indian tribes. After they were carved to their liking, they clothed them in masks and costumes to look like the men who dressed up as Kachina spirits. They were also given to children as a means of learning about the Kachinas, or Gods. The Southwest Indians believed that the Kachinas would come down to earth and help them tend their fields; provide wisdom about agriculture and government. Drawings of these Kachinas have been found on cave walls.