RIO GRANDE OR EASTERN PUEBLOS
Economic Basis of Life
The economic life of the eastern Pueblos must necessarily be characterized very briefly for the unfortunate reason that little study has been given even the simplest phases of this aspect of culture. A few brief accounts exist, either too generalized to be of specific value or confined to such subjects as ethno-botany. For certain of the towns ceremonial connections or relationships have been noted in passing by some writers.
Agriculture: The basic fact in all Pueblo economics is the high dependence upon agriculture. Corn or maize, beans, and squashes or pumpkins and some gourds were the important aboriginal plants cultivated in the warmer climates. Some is still grown but it is largely for ceremonial purposes, although Isleta sometimes has a few hundred pounds which are sold commercially.
Planting times depend on local conditions. The Tewa plant corn in April during a waxing moon; a waning moon would have a baleful influence upon the growth of the plants. Men usually do the field work, although women may assist in planting. The harvest is gathered in late September and early October. Usually the Governor of the Pueblo proclaims the day to begin harvesting, and in the more conservative Pueblos no one would dare harvest corn before this announcement, Men, women and children join in harvesting the corn. The stalks are usually left standing to be out later to furnish forage for annuals. The corn is deposited before the house, where all join in the husking. When a family finishes its husking, it usually helps relatives. It is a time of jollity and merry-making, for there is plenty of food and the Pueblos usually make these occasions of joint labor assume a holiday character. As the corn is husked, large ears are left with two or three strands of the husk attached and placed aside to serve as seed corn. The rest is sorted as to quality and color and stacked in the back rooms of the houses.
The Pueblos are usually very careful of their seed corn. Some of the conservative towns refuse to use seed from any other Pueblo, saying that their own corn, although perhaps not as good as elsewhere, is identified with the village and the people in it. Generally seed corn is kept for two years before planting. Partially this is an old protective measure. Should there be a crop failure, there would always be seed corn for the next year. Other seeds are often treated in the same way.
Various color strains of corn have been preserved by the Pueblos for a long time. These colors often have a ceremonial connection with the directions and are personified. The Tewa recognize seven varieties with the corresponding color direction of associations and personifications.
The last variety may be of Spanish introduction, although dwarf sweet corn which is more certainly of Spanish provenience, has no directional association.
Beans existed in several colors before the conquest. They remain an important food staple.
Pumpkins are still of importance. They are kept for winter and boiled or baked.
Gourds are grown for ladles, spoons, gourd rattles, and pottery-making tools. Generally these plants are sown with maize; at least such was the aboriginal custom.
The sun flower was cultivated aboriginally.
Introduced plants now loom as importantly as do the aboriginal plants. Wheat is particularly important, often being more used than corn. This, and many other plants introduced by the Spanish at an early date, are now considered aboriginal in contrast to more recent introductions. In this category come watermelons, muskmelons, chile, oats, barley, onions, and introduced varieties of beans. Peaches, apricots, grapes, and apples are also grown by the Rio Grande peoples.
In the Rio Grande region most crops are grown by irrigation. This does not require very extensive works, as most of the Pueblo lands are in river bottoms with permanent streams. Occasionally the wheat crops will be planted early if the winter rains and snows have been sufficient, but irrigation is resorted to in order to bring them to maturity. The irrigation ditches are generally community property and are maintained by communal labor, usually under the direction of the war chief. At Jemez, for example, there are two main irrigation ditches. The fields are north and south of the town. In those are grown the field crops of wheat, corn, melons, and alfalfa. Nearer the town lie garden plots in which are raised chile, gourds, grapes, and what little cotton is cultivated.
The cultivation in most of the Pueblos of the East is a mixture of old and new. Jemez plows with modern equipment, and threshing machines are now used for the wheat which was formerly trodden out by cattle on threshing floors in biblical fashion. But the cultivation of the growing crop must be entirely by the old hand methods, often with wooden hoes. Acoma still objects to the use of threshing machines.
Fields are the property of both men and women, being inherited equally by the children of both sexes among the Tewa. Actually women own more land than men among the Tewa. Standing crops belong to the men. So, too, does the seed corn, and the hay and corn stacks. Once the crops are stored in the house, however, they belong to the women to do with as they please. They determine how they shall be sorted and stored, what shall be reserved for the family use, what put aside for the cattle, what part, if any, shall be bartered or sold. Peach trees are owned apart from the land upon which they stand. The land may be sold separately or the trees sold and possession of the land retained.
In some of the Pueblos, particularly the Keresan, the land is regarded as communally owned. Acoma, which seems to be most clear in its opinions on this subject, recognizes usage rights, however, and a man may even sell his rights in a field. Still, if it were to be abandoned the tribal officials might allot it to someone else.
Often a communal field is owned and cultivated, the proceeds of which go to the town chief or religious head of the village. It is considered bad for this person to do much work. His time is supposed to be spent in meditation upon religious subjects, and not to be disturbed by economic necessities. Santa Clara is a a notable exception in this regard, not having used this system for fifty years if at all. (Robbins-Harrington-Friero-Murre; Parsons, 1925a, 1929b, 1932; White, 1932, 1932a; Goldfrank, 1927.)
Hunting: Game is not now a major Pueblo food resource. Formerly it must have been of some importance. The more of the Rio Grande Pueblos easterly and those to the north, particularly Taos, had access to the buffalo and went as far as the Arkansas River Valley to hunt them. The Comanche also traded buffalo meat and deer and buffalo hides with the eastern Pueblos for corn, in the historic period. Antelope once were common, deer apparently less so, although deer still survive and are hunted. Bears were hunted by the Jemez; the Isletans never killed them. Wildcats, foxes, probably mountain lions, were killed for their skins. Woodrats were prized by the Sia. The great hunting events of the Pueblos were communal rabbit hunts. These had a ceremonial significance. Curved throwing sticks were used for rabbits.
Traps and snares more commonly were employed in catching birds than game. Birds prized for their feathers alone might be released after the feathers were taken. The eagle was shot with bow and arrow among the Isletans, while the Jemez trapped them. Keeping of eagles alive is less common in the Eastern than in the Western Pueblos.
As in practically all the activities, the Pueblo Indian has ceremonial observances connected with the hunt. Here only individual observances will be noted, leaving the communal hunt to a later time as it is primarily ceremonial in its purpose. These hunt practises are usually connected with the animals of prey. The mountain lion in particular is supposed to have "power" for the hunters and it is fairly common to carry some indication of the mountain lion, such as a fetish stone representing it, or, as at Cochiti, a quiver of mountain lion skin.
The eastern Pueblos usually have a hunt chief or medicine man who in some cases is the head of a religious society which is consecrated to the animal gods and the hunt. From him the hunter usually obtains a prayer stick, perhaps some sacred corn meal and shell and turquoise powder. The hunt chief prays. The hunter, once on the hunt, also prays. Perhaps the hunt chief loans the hunter a small stone image of the mountain lion. Either a shrine is set up by the hunter or he seeks some sacred spot where he leaves his prayer stick (stick with feathers attached made in a ritual fashion.) He leaves cornmeal and shell powder, and prays, usually to the animal gods. Particularly, if he is hunting deer, he will pray to the "father" and "mother" of the deer, asking for their children. Then he will really begin his hunt.
While the hunter is away, his family must observe good conduct. Women may take this time to clean and renovate the house. When a deer is killed, the hunter usually points its head toward his home, says prayers, and perhaps makes offerings of cornmeal. At the house the deer is often covered with a blanket or with valuable necklaces. All these rituals are to appease the deer spirit so that other deer will permit themselves to be killed. Similar observances are also practised with rabbits. At Lagana the hunter gives the head and eyes to his father's sister, who prays for his further success. Four days after the killing of a deer, there is a dance in which two stuffed deer figure. (Parsons, 1920, 1925a, 1929b; White, 1932; Goldfrank, 1927, 1932.)
There is some doubt as to how extensively the eastern Pueblos used fish. Many southwestern peoples refuse to eat then at all. The Isletans describe catching fish with hooks and with nets but some informants deny that they are eaten. Cochiti formerly used a large fish net made and employed communally under the direction of the governor, the catch being divided equally among the people of the town. (Robbins-Jarrington Friere-Marreco, 1916; Parsons, 1932; Goldfrank, 1927.)
Wild Plant Usage: At present the Pueblos seem to rely much less on wild products than formerly and it is possible that their diet is at present more restricted than in aboriginal times. The Tewa know the uses of many plants but now rarely employ them. There seems at no time to have been any one important wild product extensively utilized as is the case with other areas.
Of the plants used for food, the pinon nut today easily leads the list. The more important plants listed for the Tewa are the acorn, juniper berries, yucca fruit, the fruit of the various opuntia cacti, picked with tongs made of cleft sticks, the ball cactus, ground cherry, blazing star roots, and purslane. The Rocky Mountain bee plant and the tansy mustard were prepared primarily for use as pottery paints but were often eaten. Various plants were used as flavorings, such as the four-o'clock, horsemint, etc., but were not important parts of the diet. Wild walnuts were gathered in connection with hunting trips to the Arkansas Valley. Chokeberry cakes were traded by the Tewa from the Jicarilla Apache. Other plants were used for purposes other than food and will be considered later. (Robbins-Harrington-Friere-Marreco, 1916, Denver Art Museum, Leaflet No. 8.)
Domestic Animals: The only known domestic animals of the Pueblos, before white contacts, were the dog and the turkey. Neither were eaten, the turkeys being raised exclusively for their feathers. The modern Pueblos show little taste for domestic animals and of late years there is reason to believe their numbers are actually declining among the Rio Grande. A few sheep, fewer cattle, occasionally pigs, are raised.
Food Storage and Preservation: Practically all foods are preserved by drying, after which they are stored in the inner rooms of the house. Corn is stacked up without being shelled. Other foods may require preparation before drying. The harvest period in particular is a gala sight in the Pueblos. Piles of corn awaiting husking lie before the houses. Strings of chile peppers hang from the beams. Meat may be drying on scaffolds on the houses. Strings of various colored seed corn, the husks braided together, hang along the walls. Squash and pumpkins cut in strips are drying over poles.
Corn and cereals are prepared by grinding. Presumably the corn is usually parched before grinding, as it appears to be rarely cooked with lime or ashes to remove the hull as is the case in Mexico, a fact commented upon by the early Spanish explorers. The grinding is done by women, on flattish stones set on the floor at a slight angle and called metates. They use a handstone or muller, usually referred to as a mano. The metates of the Pueblos are characteristically grooved and set in a bin. Usually there are two to four bins and grinding stones, and several women work together, the meal being ground successively finer by each woman. In olden times the women might sing or the men might sing to them as they ground. While the songs are remembered in some Pueblos, they are not sung now. Indeed, in the eastern Pueblos the grinding stone is disappearing and the cereals are ground in mechanical mills. So, too, are disappearing the more characteristic foods which require special preparation, particularly the thin wafer bread. In a conservative village such as Acoma, however, the chief foods are corn and mutton, usually cooked in stews highly seasoned with chile peppers.
Wheat is now utilized in a variety of ways but generally it is ground mechanically. A leavened bread is made in a conical outdoor oven of Spanish derivation. Various kinds of tortillas of wheat flour mixed with shortening and water are also used. They are cooked on a hot griddle like pancakes, but they are dough rather than batter mixtures.
Pumpkins, squashes and muskmelons are dried, sometimes peeled and cut into spirals. Peaches are pitted and dried; apples are sliced and stuck on sticks for drying.
Various wild plants, opuntia cactus fruits (prickly pear), tansy mustard, Rocky Mountain bee plant, and others, are cooked or steamed and then dried in cakes for storage. At Cochiti, Bandelier describes the method used in preserving the fruit of the yucca baccata.
"The women went together to gather the fruit in September and October, baking it until the skin could be taken off and the fiber removed, then threw it into caxetes (small dishes or jars) and mixed it thoroughly, boiling it alternately, until it came down to a firm jelly or paste. It was then spread into large cakes about l inch thick and left to dry on hanging scaffolds, changing it from time to time until it was perfectly dry. It was then cut into squares (or, at Acoma and Laguna, rolled into loaves) and preserved. In spring it was eaten in various ways, as paste, or dissolved in water and drunk, or tortillas and guayabes (wafer bread rolls) were dipped into the solution, thus using it like molasses or syrup." (Robbins-Harrington-Friere-Marreco, 1916; Parsons, 1925a, 1929a, 1932; White, 1932, 1932a).
Houses: The typical houses of the Pueblos are of stone, usually rather roughly dressed, laid up in adobe mortar, and covered with adobe plaster. In modern times there has been an increasing use of adobe bricks, but apparently in the early historical period there was relatively little employment of this building material. Jemez now uses the moulded adobe brick almost exclusively. This moulded form of adobe brick is post-Spanish. The roofs are flat except where American influence has introduced modern types of roofing materials such as corrugated iron.
The typical Pueblo houses are grouped together and are of two or more stories. The best type of the conservative Pueblo in the East is at Taos where the houses are arranged in two roughly pyramidal piles, one of which reaches a height of seven stories. Of late years there has been a tendency even in conservative Pueblos toward the building of detached houses outside the regular limits of the quasi-communal structure. This is especially marked in the development of farming communities at a distance from the main Pueblo where temporary field shelters used during the harvest season have been gradually improved into regular houses which in some cases are now the regular residences of their owners, the town proper being visited only on ceremonial occasions.
Anciently, the only entrance into most of the Pueblo houses, particularly on the ground floor, was by mounting to the roof by movable ladders and descending into the rooms below by means of other ladders projecting through roof hatches. On the Rio Grande the roof entrance has become relatively rare except in ceremonial houses, and doors and glazed windows are common. In general the darker back rooms are utilized as storage places or for the keeping of ceremonial regalia, while the living quarters are the front or upper story rooms. Corner hooded fireplaces are still common; the chimney and probably the hooded fireplace are post-Spanish.
House ownership in the eastern Pueblos is not sexually determined as in the west. Both men and women may inherit houses or own them. There is no inheritance by clan as a rule. Among the Tewa, a widowed spouse, rather than the children, will inherit a house. Again, a multi-roomed house may be divided among the children, each one getting a room. Or, if all but one of the children have houses of their own, the remaining child will inherit the entire house. In general more men own houses than women. In Nambe the proportion is three to one. Approximately the same conditions exist at Isleta and Acoma.
House floors are usually of beaten earth or clay except in very progressive houses. The wet earth is stamped down and smoothed with stones. This work, the plastering of the walls, and sometimes, as at Sia, some of the actual work of house construction, are the work of the women, but men generally do the heavy work. It is customary to re-plaster the walls each year in July or August. At Isleta new houses are built in March.
A special type of structure to be considered is the kiva or ceremonial chamber. The typical kiva of the Rio Grande is round in ground plan and partially or wholly subterranean. Usually it is detached from other buildings. The walls are raised above the ground level in many cases and the roof is reached by a ladder or a stairway from the outside. Ingress to the interior is by a ladder through the smoke-hole in the roof. There is usually a central fireplace with a fire screen of stone or adobe which is ornamented with religious symbols. The walls are also painted with symbols. Few whites have ever actually seen the interior of these structures which are the centers of the religious and ceremonial life of the Pueblos.
There, are numerous exceptions to the rule that the kivas are round and subterranean. At Jemez and Acoma they are above ground and rectangular, forming part of the regular house block. At San Juan, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, and Tesuque they are also rectangular and above ground but detached in location. Isleta has five kivas, of which two are round and detached, two rectangular and undetached, while the fifth is a sort of general assembly house. Rectangular kivas are the rule in the west. (Parsons, 1925a, 1929a, 1932; White, 1932, 1932a; M. C. Stevenson, 1894.)
Dress and Ornament: Women alone have retained the aboriginal among costumes for daily wear in the Pueblos. In Taos, almost alone, do men retain to any extent the old costume, and there both men's and women's dress is apparently primarily the dress of the Plains rather than of the Pueblos. On the Rio Grande the women of most of the Pueblos appear in native dress only on the occasions of important festivals. At Jemez women's dress is fairly typical: a rectangle of black native cloth about 5 x 3 feet is wrapped around the body, passing over the right shoulder and under the left arm, being sewn together over the right shoulder and down the right side. It is belted at the waist with a native woven sash. Underneath the dress is commonly worn an American cotton slip. On the back is a square of cotton or silk cloth serving as a shawl, although commercial shawls are also worn. The feet are encased in hard-soled moccasins and the legs in buckskin leggings. Both women and men wear the hair in a belted queue, the forehead and side locks being banged and hanging loose. A narrow band of folded cloth is worn about the head at times by men.
Men's dress formerly was an apron or kilt. Probably it differed little from the ceremonial kilts worn at the present time. Blue woolen shirts from the Hopi were once popular but are of course post-Spanish. A short, narrow breechcloth of white cotton, the ends passing under a belt and hanging down a short distance before and behind, is still worn on ceremonial occasions or when occupied at hard work. The more northern Pueblos of the Rio Grande are distinguished by a slightly longer and wider breechcloth. Formerly robes of cotton cloth, woven rabbit skins, dressed skins, or turkey feathers were worn for warmth. The costumes sometimes seen among the older men today of white cotton trousers to below the knee, split on the outer side, and a cotton shirt worn with the tails outside and girded with a cotton belt, is a Spanish innovation.
In the way of ornament, a wide variety existed of turquoise and various shells which were worn in the ears or strung about the neck as beads. Later, silver work of various kinds was added. (Parsons, 1925a, 1929b, 1932; White, 1932, 1932a; M. C. Stevenson, 1894.)
Pottery: The peoples of the Pueblos are and have been known for many centuries as among the finest potters of the New World. At present pottery making is carried on in all the Pueblos except Sandia, although J. Stevenson reported in 1880 no knowledge or memory of pottery making at Taos, the pottery then being made there being a product of women married in from other Pueblos. Stevenson, however, secured pottery from Sandia. Probably there has been a certain decadence and resurgence of the art, and anciently the pottery was almost surely made in all the Pueblos.
Pueblo pottery falls into two classes: utilitarian, plain, and undecorated, which is employed for cooking, food storage, and general household purposes; and the decorated ware which has a high esthetic value in many cases and, while sometimes used for certain domestic ends, and still more commonly employed ritually, yet today is made to a considerable extent for tourist sale.
The quality of the ware produced in different villages varies considerably. Even in a Pueblo noted for the excellence of its pottery, it will be found that a few women are the source of the best ware. Others make inferior specimens, some make only plain utilitarian ware, while yet others make no pottery at all, securing what they need from their neighbors by trade. Decorated ware is found at Acoma, Cochiti, Jemez, Laguna, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Sia, Tesuque, Zuni, and at the Hopi villages. There are some 18 distinct types of modern ware now made or which have been made in recent times. It is impossible to go into great detail about each town. Processes, however, seem to vary little from town to town, and these can be adequately treated by giving a resume of Guthe's study of San Ildefonso, today the source of the best Rio Grande pottery.
The first question usually asked about elaborately decorated pottery is: What do the designs mean? With regard to the pottery made for sale or which can be seen about the Rio Grande Pueblos, even by the prying ethnologist, it can be fairly safely said that usually the designs mean nothing. They are decorative devices added for the same reason we decorate some of our own objectsto satisfy an esthetic sense. In Pueblos where the best pottery is made today, however inarticulate the potter may be, she generally has a definite esthetic ideal. She may be unable to express it, but she is usually consistent in her likes and dislikes and this consistency necessarily springs from some consideration of taste, either developed or acquired. Certain designs do, of course, have definite meanings particularly those which introduce stereotyped religious symbols such as the jagged line representing lighting. In this sense there is not only a meaning but a degree of symbolism, but while a bird design naturally "means" a bird, this is not the only type of deeper and symbolical meaning which is usually the subject of such an inquiry.
The making of Pueblo pottery is fairly uniform regardless of quality. The clay is gathered from the nearest suitable deposit to each Pueblo and taken to the house. There it is worked over to remove lumps and impurities. Sometimes it is winnowed by throwing it upward or allowing it to fall several feet; other times it is sifted. It is then stored. At Zuni in the West the clay is sometimes ground on the grinding stones. When desired for use, the clay is first mixed dry with the tempering substance. The latter, either finely ground pot sherds or minerals of various sorts occuring in outcrops near the Pueblos, is prepared just as is the clay. Its addition to the clay is rendered necessary by the fact that very few clays in their natural state can be worked without the vessel cracking during the drying process. A few clays containing sand (Santa Clara) need no temper. They used for smoking vessels at San Ildefonso also needs no temper. The clay and tempering materials are mixed together thoroughly, the proper proportions being determined by the color of the mixture. Water is then added and to the clay mixed with the temper, is kneaded to the required consistency. In the west the kneading is done on a stone; on the Rio Grande a cloth or a skin is usually used. Small irregularities, pebbles, etc., are removed with the fingers as the clay is kneaded.
For all but the smallest vessels, the base, after a preliminary shaping with the fingers, is pressed into shape on a mould, usually a piece of broken pottery, but sometimes a specially made and fired base. As the pottery is shaped, it is turned on this base. "The potter first forms a pancake-shaped pat of paste from six to eight inches in diameter; this she presses into the mould, or puki, to form a base. Then the walls of the vessel are built up by the addition of successive ropes, or rolls, of paste laid one upon another. The small bowls are the only exception, for they are formed in the hands of the potter from a single lump. In some cases the building is done all at one time; in others, and always with the larger vessels, a few rolls are added, then the piece is set aside to dry a little before the addition of a few more rolls. The potter usually builds two or more vessels at once in order to permit work upon one while the other is undergoing a brief period of drying. The preliminary shaping of the vessel is done either in the course of the building or after the building has been completed. The obliteration of the junctions between the rolls and of finger-marks is accomplished with the kajepe, or gourd spoon; further use of this implement aids in giving the vessel its shape. The final step, the finishing, consists of going over the entire vessel carefully, first with the kajepe, or gourd spoon, then with the fingers, to remove slight irregularities to even the lip and rim. The finishing is a slow, exacting process, and the difference between the artist and the mere pot-maker comes out at this stage of the work." (Guthe)
The paraphernalia with which the potter works are simple in the extreme. The bases and the gourd moulding spoons have been mentioned above. The gourd spoons are simply gourd fragments, usually from a broken gourd vessel, shaped to suit the potter's individual peculiarities. A potter will have from four to a dozen or more of these which are kept in a pail or bowl of water beside her, which she also uses to moisten her hands and the clay when necessary. A scraper, formerly, perhaps of sharpened potsherd, but now commonly a case knife or the top of a baking powder can, a number of fine-grained smooth pebbles, used as smoothers or polishers, and a group of paint brushes, complete the list. The paint brushes are made from the leaves of the yucca. A section is cut out and one end is shredded or macerated.
When the moulding and shaping of a vessel is completed, it is dried in the sun, unless rain threatens, when it is dried in the house. Under optimum conditions the drying may be concluded in half a day. Defects in the clay or manufacture are often revealed by cracking at this stage. It is essential that all moisture be dried out of the vessel before it is fired.
Usually a number of vessels are dried before scraping is begun. At San Ildefonso, where production is in quantity, it is customary to have forty or fifty vessels ready. Generally the surface of the clay is moistened with a wet rag, then the surface is smoothed down with a scraper, the primary purpose being to remove every trace of irregularity and imperfection. Sometimes the walls are too heavy, in which case they are thinned, Finally the clay is moistened again and the film of paste distributed as thinly as possible over the surface by rubbing with the hands, a wet cloth, a piece of sandstone, or a corn cob.
When the vessel is again dry, usually a slip is applied. This is generally a clay which will assume the desired color on firing, and is ground and made into a saturated solution in water. It is applied with some sort of a mop, now usually of cloth. Some slips require no polishing; others need vigorous rubbing with the smooth polishing stones. Large vessels are slipped and polished in sections. If there is to be no design, a little grease or a greasy rag may be rubbed over the surface when the slip is dry. This improves the luster.
Decorations are made with the brushes mentioned. Native paints, some of mineral pigments powdered and dissolved in water like the slip, are used. There is a little use of vegetable pigment, notably the Rocky Mountain bee plant which is boiled and the liquor subsequently dried into cakes. It should be cured a year or more for the best results, after which it is dissolved in water for use. It produces a black color when fired. It is sometimes mixed with mineral pigments before applying. The drawing of the designs is done freehand, the potter's hand not coming in contact with the vessel. There is notable variation in the ease with which potters draw the designs. Men sometimes draw all or part of the designs, the only time they assist the pottery-making process. Designs are geometrical, conventionalized life-forms, and more or less realistic life designs. In comparison with ancient pottery, modern designs show a great development of curvilinear effects in place of rectangular designs.
The only fuel used in firing pottery at present is dried manure, usually cow or horse dung. Sheep dung is preferred when obtainable and is the common article of the Hopi. As none of these could have been available to the aboriginal potters, we do not know just what they used. The manure is shaped or cut into cakes 18 or 20 inches in diameter and of varying thickness. It is stored for future use. The only kindly used to start the fire is finely split cedar wood.
The site of the pottery firing is prepared by building a hot fire on the soil to dry away any surface moisture. The dung cakes must also be thoroughly dry or smoking will result. The pottery must be raised from the ground so fuel may be introduced below it. Iron grates are now much used. Cedar kindly is placed beneath it. There is no effort to prevent the pottery from coming in contact with other pieces, but the dung fuel and kindly must not come in direct contact with the vessels. The pottery is completely covered with the fuel and sometimes additionally fuel is added during the burning. When vessels are considered sufficiently fired, the oven is broken apart and the pottery removed to prevent over-firing. The time varies from thirty to sixty minutes, depending on the type of clay and ware being made.
To produce the well-known blackware of the Rio Grande, the fire is smothered with loose or pulverized manure which produces a dense smoke, part of which penetrates the vessel. In the firing of ordinary pottery, smoke must be avoided or black spots will be left on the vessels.
When the pottery is fired, it is lifted out with sticks or wooden pokers and allowed to cool, usually in the shade. When cool enough to handle, the adhering ashes are wiped off and the vessels often rubbed over with a slightly greasy cloth to improve the luster.
Shapes are extremely varied, particularly in the towns where pottery making is somewhat decadent, and many forms are the result of American influence. Typical are large jars, more or less globular, with small mouths but sometimes with shoulders, constricted necks, and flaring rims. These are from 18 to 30 inches high and 15 to 24 inches in diameter. They are used to store water, prepared foods, and grain. Regular water jars are usually globular, fairly-wide-mouthed, and short necked, from 12 inches high. Wide-mouthed bowls ranging from 1 to 8 inches in depth and from 4 to 18 inches in diameter are used for preparing and serving food. Globular or nearly globular canteens are also made for water. These comprise the utilitarian forms. There also are other shapes made principally for ceremonial use. They include dippers, bowls, saucers, rattles, square-sided boxes, often with terrace ends and used for meal bowls, and miniature bird, animal, and human shapes.
It is difficult to segregate the pottery from the different Pueblos unless one is an expert. Santa Clara and San Juan are particularly noted for the polished black and red wares produced there. Although of a high lustre, the shapes are not very pleasing on the whole, and the black is frequently with a brownish tone. Isleta pottery is generally poor and confined largely to shapes invented for the tourist trade. A black and red on white pottery is the best. Parsons says all native Isletan pottery is undecorated and that the present decorated type's were learned from Laguna colonists in the last century. Cochiti pottery is best identified by its use of religious symbols; elsewhere forbidden on non-ceremonial pottery. By a general slipshod execution of extended but thin designs they are applied somewhat irregularly. Santa Domingo's characteristic old style pottery is of black geometrical design on a light cream ground. More modern and less artistic is a black and red on cream in floral and bird designs. Sia pottery is noted for the variety of its design. Its wares are traded extensively to other Pueblos and may be found almost anywhere on the Rio Grande. The basis pottery is red, the slip white (or latterly yellow) with designs in black or red and black. Designs are in general strongly conceived compositions with better coloring than is usually found. Acoma makes the lightest and thinnest pottery. The base is red to dark brown, the slip is white to yellow-cream. Design colors are yellow, red, orange, brown, and black. Design types include a completely geometric style of design covering most of the surface, and bird or flower forms somewhat resembling the best forms of Sia. Both types are recent developments. Laguna pottery is to be distinguished from that of Acoma primarily by its greater weight, thickness, and coarseness.
San Ildefonso has been omitted from the above list for special treatment. It is the leading pottery making center of the Rio Grande in number of wares and excellence of design, although the pottery is perhaps not quite as good as that of Acoma. Before 1915 there were five regular wares. Two were indistinguishable from Santa Clara polished black and polished red. The other wares were black on a cream slip and tan base, "polychrome" made with red and black figures on a cream slip and tan base, and black designs on a dark polished red slip upon a tan base. (Color of the the base is of course dependent upon the characteristics of the clay used to make the vessel: it represents the "natural" color of the clay after firing.) On most of these the designs were applied carelessly and with poor brush work. About 1915 there became apparent a renaissance of San Ildefonso pottery and the invention of new types. This had its inception, apparently, in the employment of San Ildefonso Indians in archaeological excavations on the Pajarito Plateau. It was suggested that some of the ancient designs be reproduced and within a few years a marked improvement in San Ildefonso pottery began to be noticed. This has been stimulated further by the action of a group of intelligent Santa Fe people who have established a fund to buy those pieces coming on the market which are of marked artistic excellence.
The best known of the new wares is a polished black ware with designs in dull black or gray, invented about 1919. Polychrome and black-on-red have continued but the designs have reverted to the more geometric type with few realistic figures. The execution is masterly on the products of the best potters. Much of the pottery is now marked on the bottom with the first name of the pottery maker, a convenient but regrettable indication of sophistication, and self-consciousness. (Guthe, 1925; Parsons, 1932; J. Stevenson, 1883, 1883a; Denver Art Museum Leaflets: Pueblo Indian Pottery.)
Basketry: The eastern Pueblos made little basketry and today there is scarcely any to be found of native manufacture. Willow was the most used material. Sifting baskets are noted in particular for the Tewa. At Cochiti the men formerly wove baskets, and perhaps still do.
Weaving: Weaving is almost a vanished art on the Rio Grande. It was usually, perhaps always, done by the men. At Cochiti the men not only weave belts for the women but cut out the shirts and sew them. It San Felipe serapes or blankets were formerly woven, and possibly still are. At Jemez, women's dress is made of native cloth which is said to be secured from the Hopi and from Santo Domingo. At Isleta home grown cotton is woven into belts by the women. Four women only remained, a few years ago, who knew the technique. Lance kilts and leglets are woven by the men but this was formerly done by the women. Both sexes weave blankets. (Parsons, 1925a, 1932; Goldfrank, 1927; White, 1932, 1932a; Dumarest, 1919.)
Minor Manufactures: Stone working is a very minor part of Rio Grande material culture at present. Grooved arrow straighteners or polishers, stone mortars and pestles for paint making, metates and manos, grooved stone axes, hammer stones, knives, and arrow points were formerly made. The metate and mano alone are now manufactured.
The extent of bone working is unknown. Formerly there must have been much. Stevenson in 1880 collected a horn with a perforation used for straightening arrow shafts.
Woodworking, of course, vanished early. Digging sticks end war clubs were made of oak by the Tewa. Bows were made of the locust (cat's claw), oak, currant, three-leaved sumac, or, preferably, the osage orange secured by trade. Arrows were made of the Apache plum (Fallugia paradoxa) or of the common reed, phramites. The latter was also used to make gaming sticks.
Beads are still made in some Pueblos, especially Santo Domingo. Inlay work is still done also.
Rope and cord were made from yucca fiber or milkweed fiber. Pipe stems were made of the box elder (the shape and material of the pipe is not clear). Brooms were made by tying bunches of mesquite grass. Deer and animal hides were cured, but I find only a note that they were sometimes dyed with alder bark. A slow-match of twisted cedar bark for carrying fire or as a light is mentioned for the Tewa. (Robbins, Harrington, Friere-Marreco, 1916; J. Stevenson, 1883, 1883a.)
Games: Games recorded for the Rio Grande Pueblos include forms of the hidden ball game, in which a ball is hidden, usually in a series of tubes, and the opponent guesses the location; and canute, a game in which pieces are moved along a board in accordance with the throws of a set of cane dice. There are various race games and hockey games but they appear to be primarily of ceremonial significance. There are numerous introduced games and amusements such as rooster pulls and horse-races which occur on the occasion of Spanish introduced fiestas. (Culin, 1907; Harrington, 1912.)