Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Some Notes and a Video About Anasazi Art

 
 
Anasazi Culture 500 CE - 1600 CE

Navajo culture 

Hopi Culture
 
 

 


 
 
 
 
 

 

According to the Brittanica Encyclopedia the Anasazi culture was a,
a North American civilization that developed from about AD 100 to modern times, centring generally on the area where the boundaries of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah intersect. (Anasazi is Navajo for "Ancient Ones.") It is customarily divided into these developmental periods: Basket Maker period, 100-500; Modified Basket Maker period, 500-700; Developmental Pueblo period (formerly designated Pueblo I and II), 700-1050; Classic Pueblo (formerly designated Pueblo III), 1050-1300; Regressive Pueblo (formerly designated Pueblo IV), 1300-1700; and Modern Pueblo (formerly designated Pueblo V), 1700 to date.

The origin of the Basket Maker Indians is not known, but it is evident that, when they first settled in the area, they were already excellent basket weavers and that they were supplementing hunting and wild-seed gathering with the cultivation of maize and pumpkins. They lived either in caves or out in the open in shelters constructed of a masonry of poles and adobe mud. Both caves and houses contained special pits, often roofed over, that were used for food storage.

This basic pattern continued into the period of the Modified Basket Makers, when agriculture became their major interest (bean crops were added and turkeys were domesticated) and hunting and gathering were reduced to supplementary roles. Villages remained either in caves or out in the open; but those in caves consisted of an array of semisubterranean houses, and those in the open consisted of chambers both aboveground and belowground, all often contiguously joined in straight lines or crescents. Aboveground chambers probably served as storage places and the pit houses as domiciles and ceremonial rooms. These pit houses were actually elaborations of the old storage pits. Sun-dried pottery was introduced during this period.

During the Developmental Pueblo period, the same type of straight-line or crescent-shaped multiple house was built, but gradually enlarged. Stone masonry, too, began to replace the earlier pole-and-mud construction. The pit houses became kivas, the underground circular chambers used henceforth primarily for ceremonial purposes. Aboveground chambers were used wholly as domiciles. Agriculture may have been augmented at this time by the cultivation of cotton. Pottery assumed a greater variety of shapes, finishes, and decorations. Basketry was less-common. Throughout the period the area of occupation continued to expand.

The Classic Pueblo period was the time of the great cliff houses, the villages built in sheltered recesses in the faces of cliffs but otherwise differing little from the masonry or adobe houses and villages built elsewhere. This was also the time of the large, freestanding, apartment-like structures built along canyons or mesa walls. In either locale, many dwellings consisted of two, three, or even four stories, often built in stepped-back fashion so that the roofs of the lower rooms served as porches for the rooms above. These community structures had from 20 to as many as 1,000 rooms. An actual shrinking of the inhabited areas took place as people of the outer fringes moved in to build the large units. Craftsmanship in pottery reached a high level, and cotton and yucca fibre were skillfully woven.

Abandonment of the cliff houses and large community dwellings marked the close of the Classic Pueblo period. In part this may have resulted from the incursion of nomadic Navajo and Apache from the north and a prolonged drought that occurred from 1276 to 1299.

The Regressive Pueblo period was characterized by movement of the people south and east, some to the Rio Grande valley or the White Mountains of Arizona. New villages, some larger than those of Classic Pueblo, were built but were generally poorer and cruder in layout and construction (sometimes walls consisted wholly of adobe). Fine pottery making still flourished, however, though changed in design, and weaving continued as before.

The Modern Pueblo period is usually dated from about 1700, when Spanish influences first began to be pervasive. Official Spanish occupancy of the area had begun in 1598, but the Spaniards' attempts at forced religious conversions and tribute caused hostility among the Indians, leading in 1680 to open revolt and the killing or expulsion of the Spaniards. Not until about 1694 was Spanish authority reimposed. A century of unsettled conditions, however, had reduced the number of Pueblo settlements from about 70 or 80 to 25 or 30. Much of the culture and many of the skills in agriculture and crafts, nevertheless, have continued down to modern times.

Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.


Keet Seel ruins
Cliff Dwellings
1300 CE - 1500 CE
SW United States
Anasazi Culture
Classic Pueblo Period

Courses on Udemy:


Ruins at Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona
circa 1100 CE
SW United States
Anasazi Culture
Classic Pueblo Period

Form:  These ruins were once buildings that were built one on top of another into the side of  sandstone cliff.  Made of stone, adobe, and timber.  The placement shelters the structure from the brunt of the heat and is also highly defensible.

Iconography:  While probably not built as overt symbols of power, complexes such as Keet Seel and Mesa Verde represent a highly organized and cooperative civilizations.   As icons of the culture that created them and stand as fortresses against the dessert and against hostile invaders.  Today, for many Americans, these ruins have been adopted as symbols of Native American heritage.

Context:  Some structures, such as those at Keet Seel, were built over time.  The rooms were placed one on top of another possibly because the center rooms were filled in either with stored goods or debris or because more space was needed.  The Anasazi built dams to divert water and provide irrigation for crops and were highly organized.  Today some of the earlier research concerning the Anasazi (some based on excavations of trash pits is being reexamined refuted.

According to the Brittanica,

 
prehistoric house of the Pueblo Indians of the southwestern United States, built along the sides or under the overhangs of cliffs, primarily in the area where the present-day states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah meet. Such masonry cliff dwellings are associated with the Classic Pueblo, or Pueblo III, cultural period after which the Pueblo moved farther south and built the pueblo villages that they still inhabit.

The ancestors of the Pueblos were nomadic Indians of the Basket Maker culture. When they became sedentary and began to cultivate corn, they also began to build circular pits as storage bins. When the bins were later reinforced with stone walls and covered with roofs, some Indians began to use these enclosures as houses. Finally, the Indians became proficient enough in the dry farming required in this arid climate to live completely from the corn (maize), squash, beans, and cotton they grew and to establish permanent communities. At that point they began to build their houses above ground.

The cliff dwellings are the culmination of this architectural development; the use of hand-hewn stone building blocks (the principal construction material) and adobe mortar was unexcelled even in later buildings. Ceilings were built by laying two or more large crossbeams and placing on them a solid line of laths made of smaller branches. The layers were then plastered over with the same adobe mixture frequently used for the walls. Edifices several stories high were built with succeeding stories set back, creating a row of terraces on each level that gives the structure the appearance of a ziggurat (ancient Babylonian temple tower).

Residential rooms measured about 10 by 20 feet (3 by 6 metres). Entrance to ground-floor rooms was by ladder through a hole in the ceiling; rooms on upper floors could be entered both by doorways from adjoining rooms and by a hole in the ceiling. Each community had two or more kivas (see kiva), or ceremonial rooms, usually round in early times but later square.

It is thought that the Pueblo Indians began to build these cliff dwellings in about AD 1000, as a defense against northern tribes of Navajo and Apache, who were invading their territory. In addition to the natural protection of the cliff, the absence of doors and windows to the rooms on the ground floor left a solid outer stone wall that could be surmounted only by climbing a ladder, and the ladders could easily be removed if the town were attacked. Many smaller communities joined together to form the large towns built beneath the cliffs. Two of the largest, the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado and the five-storied Pueblo Bonito in New Mexico, probably had about 200 and 800 residential rooms, respectively.

At the end of the 13th century, these cliff dwellings were deserted by the inhabitants. Two factors account for the move: an examination of tree trunks indicates a severe drought between 1272 and 1299; and it is thought that there was internal dissension between tribes in these large urban cliff pueblos. Thus, smaller pueblos were created in the south near better water sources.

Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.


These Anasazi ruins are thought to be the prototypes for the modern day Navajo and Hopi people's adobe Pueblos that are not built into cliffs.  Renown art historian Ernst Gombrich developed a theory to explain these adaptations and changes and refered to it as schema and correction.  If we were to look at the Anasazi culture's art and architecture as the plan or schema, we can see how the later Navajo and Hopi cultures might have taken Anasazi art as its schema and updated it in order to make the designs more pleasing according to the  later tastes.  These changes are referred to as the correction.


 
Another look at schema and correction:

Summary of Gombrich

To understand his theory called "schema and naturalization," or "schema and correction." To understand it you basically just need to know the definitions of three words. 

  • Schema is the cultural code through which individuals raised in a culture perceive the world. For example, we recognize stick figures to be humans.
  • Correction is where you take that schema and you compare it to what your senses tell you about the world and then you make it more accurate.
  • Mimesis is the process of correcting your schema.
Gombrich's idea can be expanded to looking how later groups can take the eralier work of art and mimic it (mimesis).  This is a kind of Darwinian theory kind of like Darwin's theory of the "survival of the fitest."

Read some stuff by Gombrich if it interests you!


 

Pueblo Bonito
Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
900 CE - 1250 CE
SW United States
Anasazi Culture
Aerial view of Pueblo Bonito from the north. 
[Copyright David L. Grill]
SW United States
Anasazi Culture
Classic Pueblo Period

According to the Brittanica,

formerly CHACO CANYON NATIONAL MONUMENT, national historical park in northwestern New Mexico, U.S. It is situated 45 miles (72 km) south of Bloomfield. It was established in 1907 as a national monument and was redesignated and renamed in 1980. It occupies an area of 53 square miles (137 square km), which consists of a canyon dissected by the Chaco and Gallo washes. It contains 13 major pre-Columbian Indian ruins and more than 300 smaller archaeological sites representing high points in Pueblo cultures. Pueblo Bonito (built in the 10th century), the largest and most completely excavated Pueblo site, contained about 800 rooms and 32 kivas (underground ceremonial chambers). The excavations indicate that the people excelled in toolmaking, weaving, pottery, farming, and masonry. Artifacts are displayed at the visitor centre.
 

Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.


 


Petroglyph near the top of Fajada Butte. It is 24 cm by 36 cm and located about 10 m west of the three slab Sun Dagger site (see Sofaer et al. 1979). A, B, C & D indicate features of Pueblo Bonito, shown in the ground plan below.
Classic Pueblo period
 
 
 


Kivas at Pueblo Bonito
Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
900 CE - 1250 CE
SW United States
Anasazi Culture
Classic Pueblo period

http://www.solsticeproject.org/celeseas.htm


Kiva painting from Kuana Pueblo Bonito
1300 CE - 1500 CE
SW United States
Anasazi Culture
Classic Pueblo period


 

Form:  The overall plan of Pueblo Bonito is shaped like the letter "D".  The structure were built out of wood, adobe, and stone.  The masonry was constructed by making a core of stones and mortar that was then faced with ashlars. (Ashlars are alternating rows of masonry that look similar modern day brick work.) The round structures in the center of the Pueblo are large subterranean buildings that would have originally been covered with logs of  pine to create an "igloo" like structure of timbers. 

Iconography:  The overall shape and or plan of Pueblo Bonito might be symbolic of the cultures relationship to the astral bodies, this matter is still hotly debated.  The kivas were used as subterranean temples.  By descending into the Kiva through the roof at the top the individual may have been going back into the "mother" earth.  Therefore worship inside and the ascension out of the kiva may symbolize spiritual rebirth.  (Keep this in mind when you look at the architecture of the Northwest Coasts' houses.)  The circular form may be a symbol of natural cycles or eternity.  Stokstad refers to the Kivas' iconography as making reference to the "navel of the earth." 

Context:  Pueblo Bonito was built over the ruins of an earlier site and seems to have been planned and constructed as an over all cohesive complex.  It was built in 25 to 40 years and was probably used more as a ceremonial center for the Anasazi elite rather than as a pragmatic living and defensive structure.  Many of these conclusions are based on recent study of the petroglyph at left, the relationship of the structures to the sun and stars, and the study other Anasazi structures across the Southwestern US. 

The petroglyph appears to relate to the overall structure of the pueblo and its relationship to the sun and stars.  At certain points during the seasons the pueblos walls line up with the passage of the sun in a similar way to the petroglyph at left. Recent excavations of the site has also lead researchers to some interesting but highly suspect conclusions.

The lack of certain debris in the trash pits at Pueblo Bonito have caused some historians to believe that the pueblo was not not occupied full time.  Other archaeologists have discovered human remains in some of the pits with markings or gashes on the bones that may indicate ritual sacrifice or even possibly ritual cannibalism.  Nevertheless, these observations and conclusions are still open to argument.

The existence of the site's many kivas and the ritualized destruction of the kivas by burning have lead to the following conclusions.  The site was used mainly for ritual and for some reason, possibly religious in nature, the site was abandoned some time in the middle of the twelfth century.  Based on observations of contemporary Native American rituals historians believe that only men were allowed into the kivas. 

According to the Brittanica kivas are,

subterranean ceremonial and social chamber found in the Pueblo American Indian villages of the southwestern United States, particularly notable for the colourful mural paintings decorating the walls.

Because the kiva is related to the family origins of the tribe and because two or more tribal clans always inhabit a Pueblo community (see pueblo), there are always at least two kivas per village.

A small hole in the floor of the kiva (sometimes carved through a plank of wood), called the sípapu, served as the symbolic place of origin of the tribe. Although its most important purpose is for ritual ceremonies, for which altars are erected, the kiva is also used for political meetings or casual gatherings of the men of the village. Women are almost always excluded from the kiva.

The traditional round slope of the earliest kiva, in contrast to the rest of Pueblo architecture, which is square or rectangular, recalls the circular pit houses of the prehistoric basket-weaving culture from which these tribes, primarily Hopi and Zuni, descend (see cliff dwelling).

The kiva murals depict sacred figures or scenes from the daily life of the tribe. The style of these paintings tends to be geometric, with an emphasis on straight rather than curved lines and with the entire mural laid out in a linear pattern around the walls. The murals are painted on adobe plaster with warm, colourful pigments made from the rich mineral deposits of the area. Frequently the Indians plastered over an old mural to paint a new one on top; in recent years the several layers of a number of kiva murals have been unpeeled and restored.
 

Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

 A Kiva and its interior.
 
 

 

Anasazi Culture
Seed Jar circa 1250 CE
8" tall



Anasazi Jars
1125 CE - 1200 CE
SW United States
Anasazi Culture
Classic Pueblo period


 
 
Form:  The vessels are ceramic and made using the coil built technique.  Anasazi pottery is mainly geometric in design, but features naturalistic patterns as well.  The designs play with negative and positive space while enhancing the shape of the vessels.  These pots are an example of horror vacui.  They were made with the coil method.  This method consists of making a long snake like form out of clay and spiraling it around a hollow core.  The coils were then smoothed out.  The pots were then fired, probably in a pit, and glazed with a thin coating of watered down clay called slip or engobe.  The way in which all of the pots' surfaces have been covered with decorations and designs is referred to as horror vacui.  Horror Vacui is Latin a fear of empty space.

It is interesting to note that the style of decoration on the seed jars at left typifies many of the main qualities of Anasazi, Hopi and Navajo art.  The majority of the decorations are stylized in a geometric fashion, (designs based on geometric forms such as circles, squares and counterbalancing curves.)  The pots are also decorated with some naturally occurring repeating designs found in nature, such as wave forms, but, may also incorporate manmade things found in the environment such as block forms used in buildings.  

Some pots, such as the top most seed jar incorporate the naturalistic depiction of lizards (such as the three dimensional lizard handle on top) which is counterbalanced with the flat geometrically stylized painting of the lizard on the bottom of the jar.  

Iconography:  Based on contemporary Navajo interpretations, here is a chart that may describe what each pattern means.

Patterns....
 

Border Patterns are used by weavers and silversmiths to establish boundaries and as designs in their own right.  The Hopi silversmiths, especially, have made great use of these foreground/background patterns in their overly jewelry. Many of the recurring spirals and whorls are connected with bean sprouts, life springing out, cycles of life, and eternal renewal.  We call this one "Greek key".
Border Pattern, Spirals, whirlwinds, renewal, water
Border Pattern, kiva steps, or Clouds, direction and change
Border Pattern, Waves, spirals, water and cycles, life and renewal

Context:  These pots are called seed jars because they were used to contain seeds.   The pots were suspended from the roof poles by leather thongs to thwart rodents.  The lizard on top of the jars may serve a protecting function since some lizards eat rodents.

Women made the pottery in the Anasazi culture.  The iconography of the pottery is probably based on the immediate environment the potters experienced. 
 
 

Some iconographic symbols from the modern day Navajo culture which will help you to understand the next section.

Spirits...
 

Navajo Yeii Spirit, is a depiction of a spirit considered by the Navajo to be a go-between between man and the creator.  Yeiis control natural forces in and on the earth, such as day and night, rain, wind, sun, etc.  A very special kind of yeii is the Yei'bi'chai, grandparent spirit or "talking God" who can speak with man, telling him how to live in harmony with all living things by following a few rules of behavior and using only the basic things he needs to survive.  A symbol of the harmony acheived is the "Rainbow Man", a yeii controlling the rainbow, who gives beauty to those in harmony.
The Hand, represents the presence of man, his work, his acheivements, his legacy.  It also represents the direction of the creative spirit through a man, as a vessel for the Creators power. 

(Pay attention to this symbol because you will see it again in Paleothic Cave paintings).


Feathers...
 
Feathers, depicted in many, many ways, are symbols of prayers, marks of honor or sources of ideas.  They represent the Creative Force, and are taken from birds connected with the attribute for which they might be utilized: goose flight feathers to fledge an arrow because of the long flights of the geese; Eagle feathers for honor or to connect the user with the Creator, Turkey feathers to decorate a kachina mask. As design elements, they may appear plain, banded, barred, or decorated.
Pahos or Prayer Sticks, are carefully notched and painted cottonwood or cedar sticks with specific feathers attached to catch the wind.  They are planted in the ground at religious sites, and at springs to carry specific prayers to the Creator or to the Kachinas.  Their forms are found in many Pueblo and Navajo designs.

 
 

Kiva painting from Kuana Pueblo Bonito
1300 CE - 1500 CE
SW United States
Anasazi Culture
Classic Pueblo period

Courses on Udemy:

No comments:

Post a Comment