The Pueblo: Day 6

Happy Solstice Day!  That’s how we were greeted when we walked into the Visitor Center of the Azetc Ruins in Aztec, New Mexico this morning.  Earlier this morning, long before we were out of bed, decedents of the Pueblo People were gathering in this sacred spot to celebrate the Solstice.  Remarkably, their ancestors had built their dwellings with the major north wall expertly aligned with the rising sun on the Summer Solstice, and the setting sun on the Winter Solstice.

So many things about this People and their culture fascinate me.  They had a thriving society in 1100 A.D. when they decided to build very complex dwellings on this spot. 2015-06-21 12.02.50The remains of those dwellings and the kivas, which were sacred gathering spaces, are a National Monument today and a beautiful place to visit.  (The photo to the left is inside the large kiva, which has been restored and is still used as a sacred gathering space today.)

Although it was hot again today, we went out early and walked through the entire ruins. It was easy to feel that we were walking and standing on holy ground.  2015-06-21 12.13.41The place really defies description. You must come and experience it for yourself.  I hope these pictures can speak the thousands of words that fail me this evening.

2015-06-21 12.31.25As we finished our walk through the monument, a couple was working at a table making and painting Acoma pottery. (The Acoma are one of the Pueblo Peoples.)  The pieces were delicate and exquisitely beautiful.  I praised the skill and beauty of their work and we had a wonderful conversation.     The woman told me that it was her grandmother who had taught her to make pottery.  And, she has been doing it ever since.  Her husband explained how he uses only natural plants and substances to create the colors he paints on the pots. And, each design he creates tells a story.  The large bowl he was painting with a brush made of Yucca plant told the story of the movement of the stars in the heavens.  I only wish I was brave enough to think that I could get a large piece of their pottery home in one piece. But, not being brave, I selected a very unusual water jug made in the shape of a snake. It is painted with the corn pattern, telling how the people were nourished by the corn.  I also couldn’t pass up a tiny little bowl that was so cute it simply called to me.

Once my purchases were made, as they packed them in a little box, the woman told me her granddaughter had made the little bowl I bought.

2015-06-21 12.05.29I was so touched to know these people and see the care they put into the work of their hands.  And, I was moved to know the woman learned the art from her grandmother and that the little bowl I purchased was made by her granddaughter.  How many years of pottery making skill and creativity has been passed down to these two women whose work I now have?  My snake vase and tiny bowl will always remind me of this day, these gentle and gifted artists and their ancestors who lived in this place centuries ago.

For more information on the Pueblo People from my traveling companion’s perspective, you can go here and read his blog from today.