The Color Symmetries of the Solstices: Ritual Sandals from the Prehistoric American Southwest

Dorothy K. Washburn and Donald W. Crowe
Proceedings of Bridges 2012: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2012)
Pages 247–250 Regular papers


Between AD 400-700 incipient agriculturalists in the American Southwest wore yucca fiber sandals decorated with elaborate two-color plane pattern symmetrical designs. These designs, divided into two colored bands, each of which consisted of a pair of colors, that when combined, created two-color designs, were unprecedented in the Southwest. The color pairs mark the cardinal directions of the sunrises and sunsets at the summer and winter solstices used by corn agriculturalists to schedule their planting and harvesting activities. These designs are evidence that ritual beliefs and practices common in Mesoamerica accompanied the northward flow of migrants bringing corn agriculture into the American Southwest.