The use of mantles over the shoulders, for the purpose of concealing and protecting the upper part of the body, is not common among male Pueblo actors. Whenever used, they signify a special character or a person of
eminence. On the other hand, impersonators of female characters always wear some kind of blanket or shawl. The most prized is the embroidered white blanket (pl. 34), hand-woven from native cotton by the Hopi in a plain basket weave. This, minus the embroidery, is the specification for the large white robe of the Hopi bride. It is decorated in woolen yarns of black and green, with touches of red and yellow in the wide borders at the top and bottom, and the corners are finished with tassels of black yarn. It is whitened with a paste made of finely powdered white clay (kaolin) to keep it clean. This blanket is a rectangle about four feet by five and one-half feet and when used as a mantle is always worn over both shoulders. This form of blanket is probably not prehistoric, since "no embroidered wedding blankets antedate the period when dyed yarns could be procured from the trader and all known specimens are worked with worsteds, but many were collected before aniline colors came into use. Of the character of the wedding blanket before wool was introduced there is no information, though following the method employed in the kilts of the snake society the garments may have been ornamented with painted designs."
The Maiden's shoulder blanket is of white cotton with wide, dark blue, or dark blue and red, woolen borders woven on two ends (pl. 38). The weave is a diagonal twill, and the shawl measures thirty-six by forty-eight inches. It is worn either over both shoulders or over the left shoulder and under the right arm, and it is knotted in front. The over the left shoulder and under the right arm manner of wearing the shawl is the most common, as this leaves the right arm free from restriction. Formerly, most Pueblo girls wore this dress-up garment on festival days. Today it has been replaced by gaudy, printed Mexican squares or overbrilliant plaids of machine manufacture.
In dress for ceremonial occasions the Maiden's blanket is worn by impersonators and by participants in the Women's Society rites and dances.
Formerly, an all black or dark blue woolen shoulder blanket served the
women as an everyday dress. It was worn in the same manner as the Maiden's blanket, or over the head with the ends hanging in front or thrust behind the shoulders. Mrs. Stevenson says that even in 1879, when she made her first visit to the Southwest, "a Pueblo woman or child would no sooner appear without this special piece except in certain ceremonials than a civilized woman would leave off her dress." Even today, women and girls wear some kind of shawl or scarf over their heads or around their shoulders, regardless of its incongruity with their American store clothes. Some female impersonators wear these dark shawls in place of the Maiden's blanket. It is also not unusual to see them side by side in a long line of dancers. The shawl is of the same size and weave of material as that worn as a woman's dress.
Occasionally there are special mantles, such as the ancient, painted cotton cloth seen on the Aholi (pl. 30), or the Pueblo and Navaho woolen blankets worn by the leaders or chiefs. Certain personages may also wear, on occasion, one of the rare rabbitskin robes which are still in existence.
Deerskin and other dressed hides are variously worn, either over both shoulders or over the right shoulder and under the left arm. They are often untrimmed, with the leg pieces hanging but knotted so that they will not drag (pl. 33), or they may be shaped to make a rectangular or square garment. The pelt of a deer, mountain lion, goat, or sheep sometimes makes a shoulder cape or small mantle to distinguish a character.