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.

Paula

 

Zia Pueblo – Zia Sun Symbol – New Mexico State Flag Borrows Symbol

The Zia Pueblo north of Albuquerque, New Mexico is part of the larger Pueblo community of southwest Native Americans. The Zia Pueblo has been occupied continuously since 1250 AD. The Zias are noted for their pottery and their use of the sacred sun symbol.

Traditionally a circle with rays pointing in the four directions, the Zia symbol is painted on pottery and drawn in the ground for various ceremonial purposes.

zia-large

Four is sacred to the Zia and represents a variety of natural forces:

The four directions

The four seasons

The four phases of the day – sunrise, noon, evening and midnight

The four phases of life – childhood, youth, adulthood and old age

The four sacred obligations – to develop a strong body, a clear mind, a pure spirit and a devotion to the well being of ones people.

The Zia Pueblo has its own flag

xa-zia

The Zia symbol is also used on the New Mexico state flag, highway markers, and as design elements in state buildings. You might have seen the symbol as a design on a tee shirt or a coffee cup or a pendant and thought “Oh, yeah, the state symbol of New Mexico”. Well, I’m not sure New Mexico ever got permission to use the ancient Zia Pueblo symbol, but that’s another story. I do want you to know that the symbol originated long before there was a state of New Mexico and its flag.

newmexicoflagpicture1You’ll also see the Zia symbol used by southwest Native American artists in all types of jewelry, with and without a sunface at the center. Here is a key ring with an inlaid Zia sunface symbol.

KR224-sunface-1