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Taos (Indian village in New Mexico, USA)
The town of Taos is a town located in the valley of a small tributary of the Rio Grande, in the state of New Mexico (in the United States). This adobe settlement, consisting of dwellings and ceremonial buildings, represents the culture of the Indians of the peoples of the states of Arizona and New Mexico. The site was included in the list of goods Heritage of UNESCO in 1992.
Taos is an outstanding example of a traditional type of architectural ensemble of the pre – Hispanic era in America and only in this region that has successfully maintained most of its traditional forms until today. Thanks to the determination of the Native American community in later times, it appears to be successfully resisting the pressures of modern society.
The culture of the Indians spread across a wide geographic area of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. Taos is the best preserved of the towns north of the borders defined by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848. Located in the valley of a small tributary of the Rio Grande, Taos has a group of dwellings and ceremonial centers (six kivas have been preserved), which are representative of a culture largely derived from the traditions of the prehistoric indigenous Anasazitribes that settled near the present borders of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado.
The modest rural community of Taos, born before 1400, characterized by common social and religious structures and traditional agricultural practices. In the modern historical period the two main characteristics of Pueblo civilization were mutually contradictory: traditions that did not change profoundly, rooted in culture, and the increasingly constant capacity to absorb other cultures. Its faculty of acculturation began to appear gradually after the first Spanish expedition of the governor of Nueva Galicia, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, in 1540-1542.
The entire 18th century was a time of wars in which Taos played an important role in resisting the colonizers. The breeds of cattle and the different types of grains were introduced by the conquerors in their agricultural system. Bad attempts were received to convert the villages to Christianity, but unconsciously the religious mentality of the people changed.
The Taos people show the traditional method of adobe construction; The village is made up of two groups of houses, each built with sun- dried mud bricks, with walls ranging from 70 cm thick at the bottom to about 35 cm at the top. Every year the walls were varnished with a new layer of plaster adobe, as part of a village ceremony. The bedrooms are one step back so that the ceilings of the lower units form terraces for the ones above. The ground-level units and some of the ones above are entered through doors that were initially quite small and very low; access to the upper units is by stairs through holes in the ceiling. The dwellings are located on the top and outside, while the deep rooms within the structure were used for grain storage. The ceilings are made of cedar wood, and its ends protrude through the walls; the walls are made up of branch mats that are covered with a thick layer of mud and a finishing layer of adobe plaster. It is a massive construction system, but very well adapted to the rigors of the climate.
In 1970, the people of Taos obtained the lands usurped by the Government, which included the sacred site of Blue Lake. At the same time, their ritual ceremonies include both a Christmas procession and the Spanish-Mexican dance of the Matatchines.
The two main adobe complexes retain their traditional three-dimensional layout. Some changes, such as doors and windows, have been introduced in the last century. The Taos people represent a natural evolutionary process; it has adjusted to a social and economic climate that has changed and reflects the acculturation of European features and the relaxation of the needs of defensive structures.
The administration of Taos is exercised by the Taos tribe, who are fully aware of their heritage and the material expression of that heritage in the buildings of the settlement. The town of Taos has tended to become a seasonal habitat reserved for ceremonial functions and tourist attractions.
The culture of the Pueblo Indians spread across a wide geographic area of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. It can still be found in a number of communities in the states of Chihuahua (Mexico) and Arizona and New Mexico (United States). Taos is the best preserved of the towns north of the borders defined by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848).
Located in the valley of a small tributary of the Rio Grande, Taos has a group of dwellings and ceremonial centers (of which six have been preserved), which are representative of a culture largely derived from the traditions of prehistoric indigenous tribes of Anasazi, who settled around the present borders of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. Their culture went into irreversible decline, and the main existing sites in the 13th century such as Mesa Verde and the Chaco(included in the World Heritage List in 1978 and 1987, respectively) were abandoned, perhaps due to major climatic changes.
The proliferation of small towns in the Rio Grande valley and its tributaries were considered, together with the disappearance of the Anasazi tribes, one of the main characteristics of the North American solution. It was then that modest rural communities characterized by common social and religious structures, traditional agricultural practices perfected during the “classical” period, and a systematic use of irrigation, were formed. Taos is believed to have appeared around 1400.
In the modern historical period the two main characteristics of Pueblo civilization were mutually contradictory: traditions that did not change profoundly, rooted in culture, and the increasingly constant capacity to absorb other cultures. Beginning in 1613, the residents of Taos resisted the encomienda system that allowed certain Spaniards to demand a tribute in kind from the village. In 1634 the missionary Fray Alonso de Benavides complained to the pope about his “rebellious” attitude.
The entire 18th century was a time of wars in which Taos played an important role in resisting the colonizers. A dichotomy between an irredeemable attitude in principle and an assimilation of the facts, marked the two subsequent historical stages: 1821-1848, under the Mexican administration, and from 1848 to the present, under the US government.
Today, the town appears at first glance to fit the description made in 1776 by Fray Francisco Atanasio Domínguez. However, although the earthen enclosure that resembles one of the biblical cities survives, numerous modifications are observed. To the west, the missionaries’ convent and the ruined church. A new church was built in a different location on the west side of the north plaza in the 19th century.. The multi-story adobe homes still retain their original shape and contour, but the details have changed. Doors, traditionally used primarily to interconnect rooms, are now common as exterior access to the ground floor and the rooftops of the upper floors. Windows that were traditionally small and are incorporated into the walls very sparingly are now common features. The proliferation of doors and windows through time in Taos reflects the acculturation of European features and the relaxation of the needs of defensive structures. In addition to the outdoor ovens and fireplaces, they have been built inside the habitable places.
Statement of Significance
Situated in the valley of a small tributary of the Rio Grande, this Pueblo Indian settlement, consisting of adobe dwellings and ceremonial buildings, exemplifies the enduring culture of a group of today’s Pueblo Indians. It is one of a group of settlements established in the late 13th and 14th centuries in the valleys of the Rio Grande and its tributaries that have survived to this day and constitutes an important stage in the history of urban areas, community and cultural life. and development in this region. The town of Taos is similar to the settlements in the Four Corners area of the Anasazi, or ancient Pueblo ethnic groups. in places like the Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde, and it remains a thriving community with a living culture.
- Criterion (iv): Pueblo de Taos is a remarkable example of a traditional type of architectural ensemble from the pre-Hispanic era of the Americas unique to this region and one that, due to the living culture of its community, has successfully maintained most of it. of its traditional constitutes to this day.