SIA0206: Big Kiva

Photographer:Calvin J. Hamilton
Copyright:© 2003 Calvin J. Hamilton
Location:Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

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Kiva's (KEE-vah) are underground structures primarily used for religious activities. Since there was no written language, boys and young men were taught the oral traditions that were passed down from one generation to another. This included prayers, songs, legends, and stories. The Kiva was an important part of their culture.

During the time when this Kiva was in use, it would have been covered by a roof made of wood and earth supported by six wooden pillars. A ladder coming out from the roof's center served as an entrance. There is a small hole called a sipapu (SEE-pah-poo) near the floor's center that symbolizes a place of emergence. Here the Puebloan ancestors could emerge from the world below into this world.

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