TaosPueblo

Taos Pueblo is an ancient pueblo of the Taos (Northern Tiwa) Pueblo people. Built between
1000 and 1450 AD, it is the oldest continually inhabited community in North America and is home
to about 1900 people. Most of the people have homes outside the Pueblo, but 150 still live within the
two ancient adobe structures separated by Red Willow Creek and several adjacent adobe houses.
The Pueblo is maintained in its ancient form, although doors and windows have been added in
the last century (earlier entrances were through holes in the roof). Every year a ceremony is
held during which there is a reapplication of the thick layers of mud plaster to the walls.
There is no electricity or running water, indoor plumbing or phones within the pueblo.

Taos Pueblo was one of the main centers of trade between Rio Grande Pueblos and the
Plains Indians. Trade Fairs were held every season and were institutionalized by the Spaniards.
It was the center of the Pueblo Revolt in 1680 that drove the Spanish out of New Mexico until 1692.

Taos Pueblo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6541


Taos Pueblo North House HS6541
(589 KB)

North House (Hlauuma) is the largest multi-storied Pueblo structure still in existence,
and one of the most photographed and painted buildings in the Western Hemisphere.

Taos Pueblo (Tuah-Tah) is the largest surviving multi-storied Pueblo in the United States.
It is the oldest continually-inhabited community in North America, and it has changed little
in over 500 years. The Tiwa-speaking Taos Pueblo inhabitants do not allow electricity,
telephones or plumbing in the pueblo. Taos is the Northernmost New Mexico pueblo,
and inspired the Pueblo Revival style of architecture at the turn of the 20th century.

Tuah-Tah means “Our Village”. Taos means “Red Willow” in the Tiwa language.

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_House_HS6507


Taos Pueblo Adobe House HS6507
(508 KB)

An old adobe house outside the Pueblo. This house appears to have been abandoned, as it has not been maintained.

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_House_and_Kiva_HS6527


Taos Pueblo Adobe House and Kiva HS6527
(449 KB)

An adobe house and Kiva just East of North House. Each year, as part of a village ceremony, the walls are refinished.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6509


Taos Pueblo North House HS6509
(334 KB)

North House (Hlauuma). In front is a summer shelter whose framework is used for drying racks
to hang corn, meat, fruit and chile depending upon the season. Behind is Pueblo Peak, part of
the Taos Mountains, which are a part of the Sangre de Cristo range, the tallest in New Mexico.

Taos_Pueblo_South_House_HS6510


Taos Pueblo South House HS6510
(422 KB)

South House (Hlaukwima) was built about the same time as North House.

Taos Pueblo is part of a chain of Pueblo Indian dwellings in the Taos Valley
which date to the late 900s. Taos Pueblo is the only Native American community
designated as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historical Landmark.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6512


Taos Pueblo North House HS6512
(348 KB)

The main room block of the Eastern section of North House.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6515


Taos Pueblo North House HS6515
(341 KB)

A Pueblo Dog wanders across the East block of North House.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6517


Taos Pueblo North House HS6517
(314 KB)

Shadows from poles on the Summer Shelter point the way to the East Block of North House.

The people of Taos Pueblo trace part of their ancestry back to inhabitants of the Four Corners
region, the Ancestral Pueblo people of Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon known as the Anasazi
(or Hisatsinom) who migrated to the Rio Grande valleys in the late 13th and early 14th centuries.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6521


Taos Pueblo North House HS6521
(354 KB)

Some traditions of the Taos people state that the Pueblo was built in around 1000-1050 AD,
and there were pueblo structures built in the Taos Valley in the period around 1000 AD. What
is known for certain is that Taos Pueblo was definitely in existence before 1400 AD, and was
probably built in the period between 1300 and 1350 AD, after the migrations of the Anasazi to
the Rio Grande area. The only major change to the Pueblo since then is the addition of doors.

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Taos_Pueblo_Red_Willow_Creek_HS6533


Taos Pueblo Red Willow Creek HS6533
(752 KB)

Red Willow Creek (Rio Pueblo de Taos) is the pueblo’s main water source. Originating
at the sacred site of Blue Lake east of Pueblo Peak, it bisects the Pueblo and provides
year-round water for the inhabitants. Blue Lake (Ba Whyea) is considered by the people
to be the origin of the Taos people. It is a place of ritual worship and historic importance.

Taos_Pueblo_Red_Willow_Creek_HS6537


Taos Pueblo Red Willow Creek HS6537
(632 KB)

Taos_Pueblo_Red_Willow_Creek_HS6600


Taos Pueblo Red Willow Creek HS6600
(616 KB)

Theodore Roosevelt appropriated Blue Lake and other tribal mountain lands to form the
Kit Carson National Forest in 1906. The forest was once inhabited by the Anasazi, who
had established the Pot Creek Pueblos (now an archaeological site). When Pot Creek
was abandoned in about 1320, the Northern Tiwa moved to Picuris and Taos Pueblos.
A 64-year battle ensued against the government for the return of the land, ending when
Richard Nixon finally returned 48,000 acres and Blue Lake to the Taos people in 1970.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6543


Taos Pueblo North House HS6543
(677 KB)

A view of North House (Hlauuma) from across Red Willow Creek (Rio Pueblo de Taos).

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_House_and_Kiva_HS6547


Taos Pueblo Adobe House and Kiva HS6547
(449 KB)

An adobe house in the southeastern section of the Pueblo, just north of a large Kiva (right).
The foreground structure is a Summer Shelter, and the mound is a horno (an adobe oven).

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_Houses_and_Kiva_HS6605


Taos Pueblo Adobe Houses and Kiva HS6605
(471 KB)

I broke the shot sequence to show this image, with detail of the Kiva
and the surrounding adobe houses, after the context shot shown above.

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_House_HS6552


Taos Pueblo Adobe House HS6552
(435 KB)

Adobe houses in the southeastern section of the Pueblo.

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_House_HS6553


Taos Pueblo Adobe House HS6553
(436 KB)

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_Houses_HS6560


Taos Pueblo Adobe Houses HS6560
(401 KB)

Note the Vigas (beams supporting the roofs, which pierce the exterior walls). These are a
traditional part of pueblo architecture from early Pueblo (Anasazi) times, and are functional
parts of traditional Pueblo structures. In Pueblo Revival architecture, vigas are ornamental.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_and_Plaza_HS6556


Taos Pueblo North House and Plaza HS6556
(452 KB)

A Summer Shelter at the south edge of the Plaza, North House is in the distance at right.
Under a tarpaulin inside the Summer Shelter is a horno (a beehive-shaped adobe oven).

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_House_and_South_House_HS6564


Taos Pueblo Adobe House and South House HS6564
(359 KB)

An adobe house in the southern section of the Pueblo, overlooked by South House (Hlaukwima).

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
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There are 14 Sections in the Photoshelter Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection

Direct Links to images from this page:

Taos Pueblo

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Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6565


Taos Pueblo North House HS6565
(607 KB)

North House (Hlauuma) from across Red Willow Creek.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6568


Taos Pueblo North House HS6568
(540 KB)

A closer view of North House and the North Plaza.

Taos_Pueblo_Dog_San_Geronimo_6569


Taos Pueblo Dog San Geronimo 6569
(589 KB)

A Pueblo Dog entering the courtyard of San Geronimo
(St. Jerome Church), built in 1850 after the Taos Revolt.

Taos_Pueblo_San_Geronimo_6571


Taos Pueblo San Geronimo 6571
(589 KB)

The same scene sans dog. This is the courtyard of the new
St. Jerome Church (images of the Old San Geronimo below).

Taos_Pueblo_South_House_HS6573


Taos Pueblo South House HS6573
(638 KB)

South House (Hlaukwima), while not as renowned as North House (Hlauuma),
is every bit as old. Like North House, the entrances to the Pueblo were originally
quite small and low, and entrance to the upper story units was through holes in the
roof and ladders. Before 1900, entrance to lower story rooms was also from ladders
on the outside and via holes in the roof, but since 1900 there have been ground level
entrances, and more recently entrances have been enlarged and doors installed.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6578


Taos Pueblo North House HS6578
(315 KB)

The Eastern Wing of North House. The doors on the first floor are a recent innovation (instituted after 1900... not long ago).

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6582


Taos Pueblo North House HS6582
(323 KB)

Prior to 1900, entry to North House was by ladder to the roof of first floor rooms, in a hole in the roof, or up another ladder.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6579


Taos Pueblo North House HS6579
(305 KB)

The doors, door frames and window frames are traditionally painted turquoise or shades
of blue. This custom came in with the Spanish, and it is supposed to keep evil spirits away.
Note the vigas (exposed beams) supporting the roofs. Unlike those used in Pueblo Revival
architecture, vigas at Taos Pueblo are functional... they actually support the roof. As you will
see below, even buildings with smooth exterior walls have hidden vigas supporting the roof.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6587


Taos Pueblo North House HS6587
(377 KB)

Some doors and window frames are not painted blue, as you can see in these images of the East side of North House. The open door is a Pueblo arts and crafts shop: “Tiwa Creations”.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6588


Taos Pueblo North House HS6588
(393 KB)

A wider shot of the Eastern side of North House.

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_House_HS6591


Taos Pueblo Adobe House HS6591
(467 KB)

The easternmost Adobe House on the Northern side of the Pueblo, just East of North House.
The exposed joists of the Summer Shelter cast an interesting shadow on the front of the house.

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_House_and_Kiva_HS6597


Taos Pueblo Adobe House and Kiva HS6597
(565 KB)

This shot from in front of the house shows the eastern edge of North House and
two of the three Kivas associated with North House behind the Summer Shelter.

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There are 14 Sections in the Photoshelter Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection

Direct Links to images from this page:

Taos Pueblo

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Taos_Pueblo_South_House_HS6628


Taos Pueblo South House HS6628
(438 KB)

Close detail of South House. While there are now doors to the first-floor rooms, ladders allow access to higher floors without having to disturb the people in the lower floor rooms.

Taos_Pueblo_South_House_HS6633


Taos Pueblo South House HS6633
(422 KB)

In the early days, lower floor rooms of Pueblos used to be for storage only, and the upper floor rooms were for living and working space. Things have changed a little bit in 500 years.

Taos_Pueblo_South_House_HS6636


Taos Pueblo South House HS6636
(461 KB)

They don’t seem to have a problem with evil spirits in South House. Note that there are no
doors or windows painted turquoise. Compare this with the image below of North House.

Taos_Pueblo_North_House_HS6645


Taos Pueblo North House HS6645
(608 KB)

At North House, apparently the evil spirits can only enter the Pueblo via the lower floors.
It is good to know these things... if nothing else, it saves a fair amount of paint and labor.

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_House_and_Ladder_HS6625


Taos Pueblo Adobe House and Ladder HS6625
(449 KB)

Some adobe houses have both doors and ladders. The dome under the ladder is a horno (a beehive-shaped adobe oven).

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_House_HS6643


Taos Pueblo Adobe House HS6643
(399 KB)

Some adobe houses still use the ladders for entrance. Note that the ladder is braced on a beam extending out of the wall.

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_House_HS6642


Taos Pueblo Adobe House HS6642
(572 KB)

This house shows many traditional elements. The ladder for entry over the stepped adobe wall
 (and the spare ladder), a sturdy Summer Shelter next to the wall, turquoise window frames, vigas
supporting a veranda roof, and chili hanging to dry from the rafters. You know you’re in New Mexico.

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_House_HS6648


Taos Pueblo Adobe House HS6648
(561 KB)

Detail of a traditional two-story adobe house, from a different angle. Note the use of chimneys. Chimneys made first floor rooms usable living space without smoking out the neighbors.

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_Wall_Construction_HS6639


Taos Pueblo Adobe Wall Construction HS6639
(559 KB)

An adobe wall during reconstruction, showing the adobe brick base, the vigas (beams) supporting the roof, and the thick layers of straw-reinforced adobe plaster forming the surface.

Taos_Pueblo_Adobe_Wall_Construction_HS6638


Taos Pueblo Adobe Wall Construction HS6638
(409 KB)

Taos_Pueblo_Old_San_Geronimo_HS6649


Taos Pueblo Old San Geronimo HS6649
(526 KB)

San Geronimo (St. Jerome) is patron saint of the Pueblo. The majority of the Taos people still
practice their ancient religion, but 20 percent are practicing Roman Catholics. The old church of
San Geronimo was built in 1598 by Spanish Franciscans during the colonization of New Mexico.
Mission San Geronimo was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, and rebuilt after the
Spanish reconquest of 1692-96. Old San Geronimo was destroyed again during the 1847
Taos Revolt incident of the Mexican-American War. The insurgents took refuge in the
church, which was breached when cannon fire was directed into it. After this the
old mission was finally abandoned, and now only the old bell tower stands in the
 cemetery which honors the 150 who died during the final battle of the Taos Revolt.

Taos_Pueblo_Old_San_Geronimo_HS6653


Taos Pueblo Old San Geronimo HS6653
(609 KB)

Taos_Pueblo_Old_San_Geronimo_HS6656


Taos Pueblo Old San Geronimo HS6656
(604 KB)

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection where a Gallery can be selected.

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There are 14 Sections in the Photoshelter Indian Lands & Anasazi Sites Collection

Direct Links to images from this page:

Taos Pueblo

Indian Lands Select
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