Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/829

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

sions, rests by its base on its horizontal upper plane, leaving always a mantel-shelf all round. In front of either one of these we find the contrivance upon which they bake their tissue-bread or waiavi, and projecting out above it the hood which conducts the smoke into the chimney. This contrivance is nothing more than an oblong stone slab, as smooth as polished glass upon its upper surface, and raised on four legs at its angles about a foot and a half above the cemented floor. Beneath this glowing embers are raked in sufficient quantity to keep the slab hot, and it thus answers its purpose admirably.

"In Zuñi, as elsewhere, riches and official position confer importance upon their possessors. The wealthy class live in the lower houses, those of moderate means next above, while the poorer families have to be content with the uppermost stories. Naturally no one will climb into the garret who has the means of securing more convenient apartments, under the huge system of "French flats," which is the way of living in Zuni. Still, there is little or no social distinction in the rude civilization, the whole population of the town living almost as one family. The alcade or lieutenant-governor furnishes an exception to the general rule, as his official duties require him to occupy the highest house of all, from the top of which he announces each morning to the people the orders of the governor, and makes such other proclamation as may be required of him."[1]

There is one other prominent object in the living-room of a Zuñian home which we can not afford to overlook in the present account. I refer to the troughs in which they grind their corn, and Mrs. Stevenson, whom I have just quoted, gives an excellent account of one of these. She remarks that "the pueblo mills are among the most interesting things about the town. These mills, which are fastened to the floor a few feet from the wall, are rectangular in shape, and divided into a number of compartments, each about twenty inches wide and deep, the whole series ranging from five to ten feet in length, according to the number of divisions. The walls are made of sandstone. In each compartment a flat grinding-stone is firmly set, inclining at an angle of forty-five degrees. These slabs are of different degrees of smoothness, graduated successively from coarse to fine. The squaws, who alone work at the mills, kneel before them and bend over them as a laundress does over the wash-tub, holding in their hands long stones of volcanic lava, which they rub up and down the slanting slabs, stopping at intervals to place the grain between the stones. As the grinding proceeds the grist is passed from one compartment to the next until, in passing through the series, it becomes

  1. Mrs. James Stevenson, in Lewis H. Morgan's report, cited above. vol. xli. 59