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Field Division of Education
Tuzigoot - The Excavation and Repair of a Ruin on the Verde River near Clarkdale, Arizona
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The perishable materials from which baskets, mats, cloth and cord were made at Tuzigoot were found in many instances surprisingly well preserved, but always in very fragmentary form. No whole basket, no complete mat, no great length of cord, and no considerable piece of cloth came to light. Our record of weaving, which must have been one of the principal and best developed arts at Tuzigoot, are based on the most minute remnants of charred or otherwise preserved portions of yucca, rush grass, cotton and human hair.

COILED BASKETRY. Coiled baskets must have been numerous at Tuzigoot. Tiny fragments of three were found with three different burials. But most of our knowledge of the coiled baskets comes from single room, Room 6, Group I, which was serving as a storage room at the time of the abandonment of the pueblo, and which had burned. When the burning roof collapsed, it fell on seven large coiled baskets. Fragments of these were fortunately preserved in the form of charcoal. A similar happening resulted in the presevation of fragments of two or three more coiled baskets in a nearby storage room.

The charred basket fragments from Room 6 utilized most often two twigs as the foundation of the coil, but occasionally a smaller twig was inserted between the two principal twigs of the foundation. Grass or bark was not utilized in the bundle surrounding the foundation: split twigs fulfilled this function. The bundles were sewed together with wood splints which ran about ten to the inch. The average diameter of a coil was a little more than 1/8 inch. The coils were usually round, but sometimes the horizontal diameter was a little greater than the vertical.

A charred fragment of a coiled basket was found in the burned roof material from the early Room 5, Group II. It differed from the Room 6 and other specimens in that, although the bundle had a two rod foundation it was composed of very small unsplit twigs and a little grass instead of split twigs. The splints also were wider and ran about seven to the inch.

PAINTED COILED BASKET. At the feet of a burial was found the remains of a coiled basket which had been elaborately painted with mineral pigments. The basket itself had disintegrated almost entirely, but the paint was preserved and maintained the outlines of the basket. It had been about 8 inches in diameter and was shallow and platter-like, perhaps not over 2 inches deep. The interior had been painted over the whole surface with a thick green paint. The exterior had been painted blue and then a second coat of green applied over this. A design had been painted only on the exterior. The design was applied in red, outlines in yellow, and consisted of a circle of solid red, about 2 inches in diameter at the bottom of the basket, from which radiated angular meanders of thin lines of red bordered by yellow over the whole exterior surface.

COARSE COILED BASKETRY. A number of fragments charred and otherwise, of coarse coiled baskets, somewhat similar to modern Pima storage baskets, were found in several rooms. A number of these were found surrounding large ollas, as though they might have served as slings used in swinging ollas from the rafters of a room or from the shoulder in carrying. Ordinarily the bundles of the coils consisted of coarse grass stems and some kind of rush leaves, perhaps cat-tail. They were sewed together by means of bear grass or narrow leaf yucca. The coils were about an inch wide and half an inch thick. Some fragments were found in which the coils contained much juniper bark.

GRASS MATTING. Very similar in weave, but of course not coiled, to the coarse coiled baskets were grass mats which in some cases had served as roof material between the small pole and the adobe layers and in other cases had been probably sleeping mats. The bundles consisted of coarse grass and were woven together with widely spaced rushes or narrow leaf yucca.

RUSH MATTING. Plate XVIII. shows samples of twilled weave rush matting. It was made of both bear grass and a type of broad leaf grass or rush. Almost all the specimens recovered were of over three and under three weave. A few specimens were over two and under two. The matting was used as floor covering and as burial wrapping and was very abundant at Tuzigoot.

A small piece of belt or carrying strap of twilled weave was found in a room.

Plate XVIII. A (left). Top. Pipestone that was worked down into rather thin pieces, apparently blanks from beads. Bottom. Pipestone pendants. B (right). Top. Fragment of yucca netting. Bottom. Twilled weave matting.

NET-CLOTH OF YUCCA. Adhering to a portion of a twilled burial mat was an unusual example of woven material. The fragment recovered is illustrated in Plate XVIII. It was loosely woven, resulting in a mosquito-bar effect. The weft strands were double, untwisted, with about 1/16 of an inch intervals between pairs. The warps were single strands about 3/16 of an inch apart. The material of the strands was a strong fibrous material, perhaps yucca.

YUCCA CORD NET. Found inside a large olla in Room 6, Group I, were the charred remains of a large net made of yucca cord. The net was composed of two-strand twisted yucca cord about 1/16 of an inch in diameter, knotted after the manner of modern hammock netting with square knots and occasional grannies. The small cord of the netting had been fastened to a 1/4 of an inch tightly twisted, three-strand yucca cord.

HUMAN HAIR CORD. A small piece of braided cord which appears to have been made of human hair was found.

OLLA RESTS. Olla rests made of a circle of small twigs wrapped together with rushes of some variety and filled in the center with grass, leaves, and juniper bark were found beneath ollas in Room 31a, Group V. The rests were about 16 inches in diameter and from two to three inches thick.

TWINED BASKET. The only example of a twined basket is represented by a few small charred fragments. The rod warps consisted of twigs about 1/4 of an inch in diameter. They were twined together with both yucca and cotton cords. The cotton cords were two or three strand. The rods were inserted between the strands of the cord in some cases; in other cases an ordinary twined weave of wefts over and under the rod warps was carried out. The rod warps were about 1/2 an inch apart.

COTTON CLOTH. One minute fragment of cotton cloth was found with a burial on the east slope. It was lost before a thorough examination of it could be made.

Impressions of cotton cloth were found on the interior of an olla, which must have been made when the clay of the vessel was still soft. The impressions reveal a moderately coarse burlap-like cloth of ordinary twined weave with warps and wefts of about equal diameter.

Similar impressions were found on two small masses of a yellow organic substance. The impressions indicated that the cloth had been in the form of a small bag of which the mouth had been drawn together tightly by some means.


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