Friday, July 12, 2013

Petroglyph National Monument

While I was waiting for Connie's plane to arrive in Albuquerque last week, I had a little time to visit Petroglyph National Monument located across the Rio Grande on the west side of town. Access there is easy, there's no admission fee, and they only charge $1 for parking.

The eroding volcanic rocks on the talus slopes of the mesa there are covered with thousands of petroglyphs. Most are dated to the Rio Grande Period (AD 1350 - 1600) after the Puebloan groups had abandoned the northern Southwest and their religions began incorporating the kachina cult. As a result lots of the petroglyphs have kachina-related iconography.

This kachina with an off-center headdress appears to be holding corn plants.

These panels show a star kachina (or star being) on the right and another human figure on the left. The four-pointed star symbol is supposedly related to the Morning Star and is associated with warfare. Actually, when we got home I looked at a Hopi kachina doll we own, an Ewiro or warrior kachina. He has four-pointed stars painted all over his face.

I was visiting in the early afternoon when the sun was high and it made for difficult photography. Some petroglyphs in the direct sun were so totally washed out as to be nearly invisible. Other times shadows caused problems. You really need to visit these both early and late in the day to  be able to see everything. That's a good excuse for me to go back.

Here are three human figures, one of whom appears to have a bird perched on his wrist.

And speaking of birds, here is a macaw. These were traded up from Mexico for their colorful feathers.

This is a yucca pod and you can see a zig-zag serpent symbol in the lower right of the panel. There were lots of serpent symbols all over.

Finally, I really enjoyed this grimacing horned kachina mask. Looks like just the kind of ogre who would scare naughty children.

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