Type I Wall Type II Wall
We toured Pueblo Bonito, the largest of the great houses, with Ranger Adrian Jones, who talked of the history of the pueblo. He pointed out the four types of walls found in the canyon.
The walls at Chaco were first just slabs of sandstone laid in such a way as to reinforce each other. The wall was relatively weak and would support only a single story. It was also as rough on the outside as it was in the center of the core. But construction evolved at Chaco over the 3-1/2 centuries it was occupied. Builders began to face the rough Type I wall with a veneer. With each successive style ... there are four types of walls ... the veneers became smoother, stones fit tighter, and there was increasing artistry in the construction. “Ah,” I thought. “I see.” Only I didn’t.
Ranger Jones told us, after building the walls, the Chacoans plastered them inside and out. That sort of made sense, too. Lighter colored plaster increased reflection from light sources. Plaster made a smoother wall. It gave the building a uniform consistency.
Why, then, would the people have gone to so much trouble to build walls with beautiful veneers if they were only going to plaster over them? Were they just building styles that reflected changing generational ideas of how things were done and have no particular significance, including artistry? What was the purpose of investing so much time and energy in something no one would see? Was it sort of like a woman wearing fancy underwear no one but her ever sees just because it makes her feel good? Was there a self-serving satisfaction the builders derived knowing beneath the plaster lay their remarkable work?
Or ... is there something more going on? Is there meaning in the distinctive patterns, meanings we can not know? Something of which we are unaware and can never fathom just from looking at the walls?
I sat and studied the patterns. I might as well have been watching paint dry for all the good it did me in expanding my understanding. I photographed each style in various pueblos and I look at them now ... each style is represented in the blog from Type I to Type IV, left to right ... and all I see is artistic architecture that I might find anywhere someone is working with sandstone. You be the judge and help me understand the why.
Posted by Bud Russo