Taos Pueblo is an ancient pueblo of the Tiwa speaking Native American tribe of Pueblo people which is around 1000 years old. It lies about 1 mile north of the modern city of Taos, New Mexico, USA. The pueblos are considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the US. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Taos Pueblo is also a member of the Eight Northern Pueblos and the people speak two variants of the Tanoan language. The community is noted for being one of the most secretive, private as well as conservative. Placed in the valley of a small tributary of the Rio Grande, this settlement comprises of dwellings and ceremonial building which represents the culture of the Pueblo Indians of Arizona and New Mexico.
Taos also has remarkable traditional form of architectural ensemble from the pre-Hispanic period of the Americas which are unique and have retained its traditional forms successfully till date due to the determination of the latter day Native American community who have been successful in resisting the pressures of modern society. Taos is the best preserved of the pueblos north of the borders marked by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Tradition method of Adobe Construction
The modest rural community of Taos appeared before 1400 which was characterized by common social as well as religious structures and traditional agriculture practices. Taos Pueblo has the traditional method of adobe construction, comprising of two clusters of houses each of which is built from sun dried mud brick with walls that range from 70 cm thick at the bottom to around 35 cm at the top.
The walls are refinished with new coat of adobe plaster each year as a part of the ceremony of the village and the rooms are placed back so that the roofs of the lower units form like terraces for those above while the units at the ground level as well as some of the ones above can be entered through doors which originally were small and low.
Access to the upper area was by ladders comprising of holes in the roof. On the top and outside were the living quarters while the rooms deep within the structure were utilised for storage of grains. Cedar Logs were used for the roofs with their ends protruding through the wall and mats of branches were placed on the logs which were laid grass covered with thick layer of mud with a finished coat of adobe plaster. This system of structure was most suitable for their rigorous climate.
Two Forms of Spiritual Practices
Throughout the 18th century, it was a time of war for Taos, who had an important role in resisting the colonizers and their breeds of cattle as well as the types of grain were introduced by the conquerors in their agricultural system.
Converting the Pueblos to Christianity was made and ill-received though unconsciously the religious mentally of the people underwent a change. Two forms of spiritual practices were represented in the Pueblo, the original indigenous religious and spiritual tradition and Roman Catholicism.
While most of Taos Indians practiced their still vital, ancient indigenous religion around 90% of the Taos Pueblo community were baptized as Roman Catholics and St. Jerome or San Geronimo were the patron saint of the pueblo.