Dragonfly and the Isleta Cross

About the Isleta Cross

Also called the Pueblo Cross, the Isleta Cross is a very old Pueblo design associated with the Isleta Pueblo. The double-bar cross design is said to have originated with the Moors and Spaniards.

To the Pueblo Indians the double-bar cross was very similar to the dragonfly symbol of their culture, so many Puebloans incorporated the Isleta cross in their jewelry. By the early twentieth century, Pueblo artisans made elegant necklaces with a large central cross as a pendant and smaller crosses along the sides interspersed with beads.

Many crosses of Spanish and Mexican origin as well as Isleta crosses have a heart or a partial heart at the bottom. This is sometime referred to as the “bleeding heart”. In the Catholic Church, the Sacred Heart (the pierced and bleeding heart) alludes to the manner of Jesus’ death and represents Christ’s goodness and charity through his wounds and ultimate sacrifice. However it has been said that the reason the Puebloans put a heart on the bottom of their crosses was for other reasons. They felt it represented the big generous heart of the dragonfly who loved the people. Also, the Pueblo women were said to like the crosses with the hearts on the bottom better, so it could have simply been a case of fashion preference.

The Isleta Pueblo is located in central New Mexico, on the east bank of the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque. It is on the same site as when it was discovered in 1540. It was the seat of the Franciscan mission of San Antonio de Isleta from approximately 1621 until the Pueblo revolt of 1680. The Spaniards captured the pueblo in 1681. In the late 1700’s, when Isleta was repopulated with native peoples, it became the mission of San Agustín de Isleta. Tiwa, a Tanoan language, is the tongue of the Isleta Pueblo.

Read more about Pueblo here What does Pueblo mean?

About the Dragonfly

The dragonfly is associated with many Native American tribes but most notably those of the southwest beginning with early HOHOKAM and MIMBRES depictions on pottery. Early Puebloans and many contemporary southwest artists have continued the tradition.

from Heart of the Dragonfly by Allison Bird

Mimbres reproduction Dragonfly AD 1250 Site Mimbres Valley New Mexico


Dragonfly represents rain and its life-giving force, a source of renewal for the land, plants, animals and thus allows human life.

from Landscape of the Spirits: Hohokam Rock Art at South Mountain Park By Todd W. Bostwick, Peter Krocek

1000 year old dragonfly-petroglyph photo by bryan-pfeiffer – click photo to learn more……………


From Rock Art Symbols by Alex Patterson

The dragonfly inspires spiritually and creatively and helps us on the path of discovery and enlightenment.

It spiritually embodies the stripping away all negativity that holds us back, helping us to achieve our dreams and goals.

Dragonfly is the keeper of dreams, the energy within that sees all of our true potential and ability. Dragonfly reminds us that anything is possible.

If you have ever seen a dragonfly’s wings glisten in the sunlight you can see why they have inspired jewelers. And how their intricately colored bodies would lead to works of stone inlay.

It is no wonder that contemporary Zuni, Hopi, Navajo and other southwest silversmiths create many beautiful dragonfly pieces.



11 thoughts on “Dragonfly and the Isleta Cross

  1. Perhaps my favorite image in Native American work. This is a beautiful discussion, with equally beautiful images.

  2. This is awesome information I learned a lot today thank you so much, I also loved the the pics I think dragon flies are beautiful.

  3. This is such an interesting blog & article. (I am a goldsmith).

    Re. The ‘double bar cross… Moors… Spain’. I am descended from ancient Syriac Christians in the mountains in the South of Lebanon. (Predating the Arab conquest). We have a triple bar cross that looks like a tree. That is because it has pre-Christian origins in our indigenous beliefs. (The Baal cycle re. dying & rebirth hunting & growing seasons of the cycle of the year). The evergreen Cedar Tree is also on the modern Lebanese flag as a symbol of our people. (Cedars of Lebanon which once blanketed our mountains but are now very few).

    Those called “moors” by Europeans were Arabs & Syrians (which inc. those from Lebanon & Palestine) & N.Africans. They were in Spain for 800 years. Hence an Apache friend of mine having an Aramaic/Arabic last name. (Despite Syrians & Arabs being murdered & converted & driven out of Spain we left our language amongst other things; which the conquistadors brought to the soon to be renamed Americas).

    We Syriac (Aramaen) people also have another cross w/ square equidistant arms – as is found all over the indigenous world – including among Indigenous Americans. It was originally a talismanic sign of protection – as we drew it on our foreheads.

    The cross w/ the long arm was introduced by the Greeks & Romans when they made our beliefs a/the/their state religion & altered them almost beyond recognition; including destroying most of our ancient Syriac writings & sacred songs (hymns) & changing the way we practised our beliefs.

    The three arm Syriac cross which looks like a tree is now called the ‘Maronite Cross’ btw – since the Lebanese Maronite Church retained it.

    I hope I have not been a thorn to you here. Thank you for your hospitality! 🌙🐬🌊🐚🏔🌲🌞

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