Friday, December 12, 2008

Bandelier: A Walk into the Past

I had written about Santa Fe some weeks ago in this post. It's time now to revisit New Mexico and take a stroll through time ... we will visit an abandoned pueblo (village) at Bandelier National Monument where the Anasazi, or the Ancient Ones, lived over 700 years ago.

There is a short loop trail in the park that takes us through the Frijoles canyon to the remains of the pueblos. Tall cliffs tower over the landscape, silently watching history unfold below them.

Humans arrived in Bandelier over 10,000 years ago, when nomadic hunter-gatherers followed their migrating wildlife-prey through these very canyons. Ancestral Pueblo people (the Anasazi) settled here over 700 years ago. So these cliffs have seen the drama of life and death play out countless times here, over many centuries ...

After a short walk we come to a Tyuonyi, which is a pueblo of about 400 rooms - one to three stories high - arranged in a circular pattern around a circular Kiva - a room that was used for religious purposes by the Anasazi. What remains now are just the walls of the rooms around the Kiva. When they were functional, these rooms had thatched roofs and ladders to get up to the higher levels.

Here below, is the Kiva. Imagine a thriving community here. In these rooms entire lives were lived. People got together around this Kiva to celebrate and pray, to dance and to sing. If we could put our ears to these walls, maybe we can hear the rhythms that they have absorbed over the years ...

A short distance from this pueblo are the cliffs of Frijoles Canyon. The canyon was formed by erosion when Frijoles Creek cut through the volcanic rock in these cliffs, which are full of natural cavities. The cavities were formed from air pockets in ash deposits from volcanic eruptions several thousand years ago. The Anasazi moved into these natural caves and created homes there.

There is a walkway there now, with a railing one can hold on to. As I walked along this path, I imagined young boys and girls scrambling over these rocks and through these holes, playing and sometimes falling, as their anxious mothers looked on ...

I was amazed to see this face appear on the rock wall. Tuned in as I was to the many ancient lives and stories here, I imagined the many stories that this face could tell me.

There are ladders in a couple of places, by which one can crawl into these cliff cave homes to see the world through the eyes of the ancient ones for just a few minutes ...

These walls contained life at one time. Families slept here, huddled against the elements. Within these rooms there once was laughter and grief; mischief and melancholy.

Little babies crawled on these floors, young children played hide and seek. Dreamy lovers sat here watching the sky fill up with stars ... anxious adults tended to their aging parents, and found shelter here from the rain and snow ...

Can you see the festivities down at the Kiva below, with crackling wood fire lighting up the dancers, and music reverberating off the cliff walls? What a sight that must have been!

So many untold stories buried here ... life's transience was never more apparent.

Further along there are more clusters of homes backed up against the cliff walls. These homes must have been several stories high and must have connected with the cavities in the walls as well.

Cactus fruit adds a dash of color ...

The Anasazi were artistic people, as we know from their exquisitely decorated pottery. Artists must have lived in this pueblo as well, drawing inspiration from this very landscape ... there is one well-preserved petroglyph along the trail. One can only wonder at the fingers that created this one.

As we walked back along the snow-covered trail in the warm sunshine, other natives of this land watched us go by. Their lives are woven with our own ... their ancestors provided company and nourishment to our human ancestors who lived here. This is their history as well.

By 1550 the Ancestral Pueblo people had left their homes in the Frijoles canyon, and moved to other regions. This abandoned site was designated as a National Monument on February 11, 1916.

Back home, I made a small 6"x9" painting of a familiar Native American motif to remember this visit by.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Mridula said...

Looks like quite an intriguing place! And loved the landscape that I can see through your pictures.

pink dogwood said...

Wow Bindu - definitely adding this to my 'to visit' places. I think there was a book by Barabara Kingsolver that was set around a place like this - I can't remember which book it was. I love you pictures and descriptions.

Anonymous said...

I love these cliff top dwellings, they are beautiful, so organic and flowing in their structure. Thank you so much for sharing your journey again!! I love it :)
The painting is beautiful, what a great idea for immersing yourself in the memory of your visit!

Blu said...

WOW........I so love your painting...It is wonderful. I really enjoyed your history story and walk around a place I will never see. Many Thanks Blu.x

Karin said...

This is my first visit here and what a great post to be greeted by!
Such a rich and well guided tour you've given us. By weaving your words of historical facts, imaginings of the past, observances of the present, and photographs I feel like I was almost along side you on the path, with a little chill from the cold in the shady spots, and the relief of warmth from the sun! Thank you for this thoughtful presentation,

Yolanda said...

Thanks for the visit. I love this part of the world.

pink dogwood said...

I forgot to mention that I loved your painting. I love how you paint the sides as well.

~vagabond~ said...

I enjoyed reading your walk through Bandelier...your photos taken in winter look so different from mine taken in summer. Different seasons give such different atmospheres to the same place. Bandelier is quite the place to visit!

~vagabond~ said...

PS. Forgot to mention that your painting is amazing. You're very talented! :)

Leslie said...

WOW What an amazing place-I have never heard of it or the people that lived there. You're so lucky to have been able to go here.

I came to your blog through Sweet Mango, to whom you gave an award and she has passed on to me.

I'm so glad to come to your site and will come to visit you again.

Thank you for sharing.

Spread Love Everywhere,

Indrani said...

Such places exist!
Full of history and mystery.
Thanks for sharing.

The Wandering Hermit said...

Reminds me of an old movie fav of mine Mackenna's Gold.. and also about reading about the Anasazi in a Louis L'Amrour book The Haunted Mesa..

The Motif's on the walls are quite interesting have seen similar motif's in the Bastar Region of India of a tribal society who still remain hunter gatherers in present times...

Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog..

painter girl said... beautiful your words and the pictures. I hope to visit some day adding my footprints to those of the past.
Your painting is a wonderful marker of your visit.Love it.

Sydney said...

Bindu -- this is a lovely trip that you've taken us on. One of many!

My heart leapt when you said you'd been in Houston, if onyl for a few hours. Do you know if you are coming again? I would just love to meet with you, if you'd be up for that.

Do you or did you ever sell your art or do you do it just for yourself?

bindu said...

Mridula - thanks.

Bhavana - thanks. :) I have only read Poisonwood Bible by her, so not sure which book this is.

sweetmango - that's true. It's easy to see where the inspiration for the adobe homes comes from.

Blu, Yolanda - thanks!

Karin - thanks for coming along for the walk!

Vagabond - thanks. Yeah, it's true that in diff seasons you get a really different feel for a place. The outlines were clearly defined when covered in snow, so I'm glad I got to go then.

Leslie - glad you stopped by. :)

Indrani, Painter Girl - thanks.

Z - I now need to go check out the Bastar ones. Haven't been to that part of India before. Thanks for stopping by.

Sydney - our trip was too last minute. No plans to again visit soon, but when we do come, I'd love to meet you too! You should let me know as well, if you come to Austin. I haven't tried to sell my art before. Have toyed with the idea, but it never has gone beyond that! :)

3rdEyeMuse said...

what a lovely tour - you really have a way of taking us right along with you & allowing us to see/feel what you did. The photographs are fantastic & your appreciation apparent. I used to live in AZ and noticed how moving so many of the monuments can be. Pretty amazing, actually.

I can't think of a better way to commemorate such a great trip than with a wonderful painting like the one you did - brilliant idea. :)

namaki said...

wow ! this is my first visit and I discoevr a stunning reportage on the Anasazis .... I knew a little about them but thanks for the details !

Vamsee said...

Hey Bindu,
I love the way you write. Your writing literally takes people to the destination.

I visited Bandelier almost 10 years back. All those memories came rushing back when I read your post.

Anonymous said...

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Nancy and the fatties said...

Beautiful work, Bindu, very fitting to honor the ghosts of the artists that lived in those places. I love Santa Fe, and was lucky to have my editorial offices there once. There is such a healing feeling to the air there.
happy holidays to you and your helper!

Robyn said...

I can definitely feel the spirit of the place in your photographs. I would love to climb in there right at the top and experience that feeling of looking out over the land from within the coziness of the cave. Just amazing! Thanks so much for sharing. I love the thought of ancient untold stories within the walls.. Love the photo of the cactus with the wall (so full of history) behind.

Bindu, you have captured the spirit of Pueblo art in your painting. So rich and full of memories.

T and S said...

Your post beautifully brings out the variety this place has to offer. And the deers did add a dash of life to an otherwise mystical place...Thomas

bb mcclain said...

Hey Bindu, Wonderful post. I wonder why the Ancient Ones left? Is there any speculation on this?

Chris said...

I can only imagine what it must have been like to visit such an ancient place. I've always wanted to visit the Anasazi ruins.

bindu said...

3rdEyeMuse - thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the walk. :)

Namaki - you're very welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

Vamsee - since you've been there, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about!

Nancy - It must've been amazing living over there!

Robyn - thanks! I'm glad you liked the walk.

Thomas - thank you. :)

bb Mcclain - I'm not sure. Now you've inspired me to go investigate. I'll let you know what I find!

Chris - I hope you got a little flavor of it from this post!

Barbara Martin said...

Intriguing place. I've always been fascinated by caves people lived in during ancient times.

The thriller writer, Douglas Preston, wrote about the Anasazi tribes in his book "Thunderhead".