Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Chaco 2004

The sun announces
The longest day for each year
At Fajada Butte.

Fajada Butte rises up out of the Chacra Mesa about a mile south of the Una Vida great house.  Near the top of the butte is an archaeoastronomical feature known as the "Sun Dagger". The Anasazi carved a spiral there on a rock face on which shafts of sunlight appear at midday to mark the solstices and equinoxes.

Windows to windows,
Doorways to infinity :
A world of mirrors.

Pueblo Bonito is the largest of the Anasazi great houses.  The multi-story complex was built in stages over a 300-year period beginning in about the year 850 A.D. Windows and doorways are frequently aligned in a way that emphasizes a receding perspective similar to what one sees in opposing mirror surfaces.
    Without roofs and surface plastering, the buildings appear much different from when they were in use a thousand years ago. While the structure is revealed in a way that would not have been apparent to Chacoans, the effects of lighting and ceremonial associations can only be guessed at.

One path sets the choice :
Up to Pueblo Alto, or
Down to Kin Kletso ?


Agility and stamina are required to negotiate the trail between the great house of Kin Kletso in the canyon bottom to that of Pueblo Alto high on the mesa above.  Topography is a preeminent shaper of world view for people who do all their traveling on foot. The Anasazi, however, did have an awareness of a world extending far from Chaco Canyon.
    This trail starts in a crack in the canyon wall, then leads to a thirty-foot-wide roadway which extended many miles to the north. It was just one of many such roads radiating out of Chaco Canyon. Precious ceremonial objects and raw materials traveled to Chaco from deep in the interior of what is now Mexico, and from as far west as the Pacific coast. Religious and political traditions traveled over the same pathways.

Tlaloc, the Rain God,
Sometimes dons strange disguise
To walk among us.

This representation of the Rain God is distinctly ornate with its spiral eyes and lace-like decoration. Square-headed, goggle-eyed figures are carved on rock surfaces all along the upper Rio Grande and near-by watersheds.   The origins of the figure can be traced to Central America, but little can be deduced from Anasazi-era representations other than the fact that it was of great importance.

Low doorways expose
The neck of the enemy
At Chetro Ketl. 

No great house doorway permits upright entry other than to a single person with the stature of a small child.  Was this enforced obeisance for the faithful, a defensive measure, or did it serve some other symbolic or ceremonial purpose?   There seems no way to be certain now.

Beneath an overhang,
A record of a supernova –
The swallows don't care.

The massive explosion of a star created the Crab Nebula in the year 1054.  This red painted pictograph may portray the cataclysmic stellar event in the Taurus constellation, but gives no hint as to how it was interpreted by Anasazi astronomers.

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