Times & Places

The Southwest United States

The Southwest culture area encompasses Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah and includes parts of Colorado, Nevada, and California, in the United States, and northern Sonora and Chihuahua in Mexico. Before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, the Southwest was home to three major cultural groups: the Hohokam, the Anasazi, and the Mogollon. Each group had developed a significant pottery tradition by about 500 CE, and it is through their ceramics that these cultures are most often represented in museum collections. Ceramic vessels functioned both in utilitarian ways—for carrying and sorting water, and for cooking, serving, and storing food—as well as in trade, religious ritual, and art.

In common usage today, Southwest refers to the region including Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Adapted from

Carol Robbins, "Jar with zigzag pattern (1988.105.FA)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Suzanne Kotz (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1997), 194.