OBJECT OF THE MONTH - October, 2005

Dog-hair sashes

Dog-hair sashes. Ancestral Pueblo. Obelisk Cave, Northeastern Arizona. ca. 650 A.D. Top: UCM-10978, Bottom: UCM-10979

These dog-hair sashes are two of six from Obelisk Cave in the Prayer Rock District of northeastern Arizona. Made by Ancestral Pueblo people, dating to the Basketmaker III period (ca A.D. 500 to 700), they were found buried beneath the floor of the cave, tied together with a cord made from white dog hair. In 1540, Spanish explorer Coronado reported that at Hawikuh (Zuni Pueblo) dogs were used for "wool" and were living in the Pueblo houses. The history of this use of dogs and their special treatment by Ancestral Pueblo peoples is documented by these Basketmaker sashes and by the recovery of dog burials in Ancestral Pueblo sites. One of the most famous of these were two dogs buried with humans at White Dog Cave in Arizona, also dating to the Basketmaker period. Two breeds of dogs may have been kept by Ancestral Pueblos, one small and short-haired, the other large, shaggy and white. These sashes were excavated by former CU Museum Curator, Earl H. Morris.

See these unique objects and the thoughtful comments they inspired at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History's exhibition webpage Object Conversations.