—The most characteristic ceremonial garment is the kilt. The forms and materials for this garment are numerous, but most frequently the kilt is of white homespun cotton cloth in a plain basket weave. It is about fifty inches long and twenty inches wide; it is wrapped around the loins and held in place at the waist by a belt. Generally made by the Hopi, the kilt is decorated by them with two embroidered panels symbolizing rain, clouds, and life—a characteristic design which always follows the same pattern, in black, green, and red. Other pueblos often purchase from them kilt lengths of the white cloth and embroider or paint them in their own designs.
A band of black about an inch wide is often embroidered or crocheted around the bottom of the kilt, with small black squares or terraced shapes breaking into the white body at intervals above this lower border. The entire kilt is sometimes outlined with a thread of black, thus giving the garment definite limitations and forming a thin line of accent.
Special kilts of white cotton are painted or stained in the desired colors and designs. It has been suggested that this is the original method of decorating all white cotton garments. The Hopi Snake Dance kilt is the most noticeable example today. On a background of tawny red a black band
with white borders zigzags through the center, "representing the plumed snake, the arrow-shaped marks representing the footprints of ducks and short parallel marks representing the footprints of the frog, both water animals." This serpent band is continuous, with neither head nor tail. At the bottom of the kilt are two lines of color, yellow and blue, bordered by black and white interrupted lines. A fringe of metal cones, useful as noisemakers, finishes the lower edge. Painted cotton kilts are used by the Rio Grande Pueblos for their Buffalo Dances. These were probably preceded by kilts of deerskin bearing a similar design. Native cloth kilts, dark blue or black, are often seen. They have a straight band of red and green through the center and are characteristic of the impersonators of the Mountain Sheep and other Rio Grande personifications (pl. 26).
Occasionally the Maiden's shoulder blanket is folded in the center and worn as a kilt, with the dark border at the lower edge. These kilts are most frequently worn with the opening on the right side; occasionally the embroidered ones are adjusted so that the panel comes to the back to be covered by the fringe of the plaited sash. There is possibly a symbolic relationship between this fringe and panel.
One other cloth garment of this type should command attention. It is called the Salimapiya kilt because it is worn especially by impersonators of those gods. As there are openings up each side, this kilt is apparently made of two pieces, a front and a back. The bottom has a wide, embroidered border similar to that of the great mantle but with characteristic medallions of colored butterflies and flowers (pls. 5, 6).
The deerskin kilt, similar to the white cotton garment, is worn by dancers associated with the hunt or with war. The most primitive form is a simple, untrimmed skin, with trailing legs knotted up around the bottom. It appears to have been but half a hide cut longitudinally. The peg holes made when the hide was cured can be seen along the irregular edges. The trimmed deerskin kilt, either white or stained with earth colors, is a garment of great luxury today because of the scarcity of wild animals. A
particular painted pattern found among the eastern pueblos has through the center a writhing black serpent (pl. 21) with a plumed head and a tapering tail. This is the symbol for the mystical being who lives in the earth, for "who can know her secrets so intimately as a serpent who penetrates her bosom?" The pictured reptile may be surrounded by various symbols: the cross of the road runner, or signs representing the sun, moon,
and stars. The lower edge is bordered in black and colored bands and around the ends of deerskin strips created by fringing the bottom are triangular tin pieces bent into cones. These replace the earlier animal-hoof and shell rattles with which these garments were formerly trimmed.
Special kilts are worn by certain dancers. One is fashioned of long horsehair stained red (pl. 35) and knotted on a cotton cord about the waist. It is held in place by a belt and hangs almost to the knee. Another is made of long yucca leaves bound together on a single band, hanging straight and stiff in repose, but breaking and parting when the dancer is in motion.
Different materials or ornaments have been worn as overkilts. Narrow strips of cloth of a contrasting color, a fringe of leather, and a series of eagle feathers hung on deerskin thongs serve as examples.