What Kind of Clothing Did the Zuni Indians Wear?

Danita Delimont/CC-BY 2.0

According to Native Languages of the Americas, the Zuni men wore breechcloths or loincloths, and the women wore knee-length cotton dresses called mantas. Zuni men usually wore very little. Generally, the only clothing that accompanied their breechcloths was a headband around their forehead. For footwear, however, both the Zuni men and women wore deerskin moccasins.

During the 1900s, Zuni women began to wear shift dresses underneath their traditional mantas to accommodate Christian missionaries, who did not think the traditional Zuni dresses were modest enough. For instance, Zuni dresses fastened at the right shoulder, which meant the left shoulder remained bare. To cover their left shoulders, Zuni women began wearing the shift dress as a kind of undergarment, which continued as a tradition into modern times.

For special occasions and dances, Zuni women wore their mantas with puttee or leggings, which were strips of deerskin wrapped around their shins. They also painted their moccasins white. Zuni men, however, did not have elaborate clothing for special occasions. Instead, they painted their faces and bodies. The Zuni, however, are most known for their elaborate jewelry, not their clothing. Traditional Zuni jewelry was made of turquoise and shell, which were used to create intricate mosaic patterns that were inlayed into a silver setting.