Mimbres

The Mimbres Culture evolved in the southwestern corner of New Mexico, centered along the Mimbres River valley. Within this small area, a very distinct culture developed.

Characteristics

The Mimbres seem to have developed from Mogollon culture, as there are clear connections between the early pottery and house types. The people grew corn and beans, and were also hunters and gatherers. Villages consisted of small pithouse or pueblo groupings, and usually had a small rectangular ceremonial structure known as a kiva. The most common burial practices intramural inhumation. Unlike the Mogollon, who often buried numerous vessels with their dead, the Mimbres usually provided only a single bowl, ritually "killed" by punching a hole in the bottom to release the spirit.

House Types

Early Mimbres pithouses were quite deep and usually round or oval. During the middle of the period, houses became rectangular with rounded corners, and were generally not as deep. By the end of the period, surface pueblos had been adopted, presumably under the influence of the Anasazi to the north. Villages at this time were somewhat larger than the typical Mogollon settlements.

Pottery

Mimbres plain wares are similar to contemporary Mogollon types, but the painted wares are quite distinctive. Vessels were constructed using the coil-and-scrape technique. They were then slipped on the interior and provided with intriguing geometric and figural designs. The Mimbres were the only ancient peoples to consistently produce pottery with figural painting. With the Mimbres, black-on-white and polychromes were developed first, after which red-on-whites became more prevalent. Figural painting also seems to preceed geometric.


Mimbres Series

The Mimbres Series of Mogollon Brown Ware includes the characteristic types found in the Mimbres area. Generally considered a subgroup of the Mogollon, we have treated them separately due to the significant difference in lifestyle and pottery.

Mimbres Plain
Mimbres Plain seems to be a late, local variant of Alma Plain, as Reserve Smudged was in the Reserve Series.

Mimbres Incised
Mimbres Incised seems to be a late, local variant of Alma Incised. The incised decoration can be narrow, as if drawn with a sharp tool, or wider, as demonstrated in our example.

Mimbres Corrugated
Mimbres Corrugated is related to Upper Gila Corrugated Types, such as Reserve Plain Corrugated, and later, Tularosa Patterned Corrugated.

Mangas Black-on-White
Mangas Black-on-White, (formerly Mimbres Bold Face), is characterized by bold designs and relatively wide linework, and is probably ancestral to Mimbres Black-on-White.

Mimbres Black-on-White Figural
Mimbres Black-on-White is perhaps the most recognizable of the southwestern types, most likely because it is the only type which consistently bears figural subject matter. However, geometric motifs are at least as common.

Mimbres Black-on-White Geometric
Mimbres Black-on-White is perhaps the most recognizable of the southwestern types, most likely because it is the only type which consistently bears figural subject matter. However, geometric motifs are at least as common.

Mimbres Red-on-White
Mimbres Red-on-White is a late variety of Mimbres Black-on-White, being refired in an oxygenizing atmosphere to completely oxidize the paint to a red color.

Mimbres Polychrome
Mimbres Polychrome is identical to Mimbres Black-on-White in all respects except that a yellowish slip has been added to some area to create a three-color composition.