Navaho Houses, pages 469-518 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 71 pages of information about Navaho Houses, pages 469-518.

  [Illustration:  Fig. 232—­Frame of a doorway]

While the sides are being inclosed by some of the workers a door-frame is constructed by others.  This consists simply of two straight poles with forked tops driven into the ground at the base of and close inside of the doorway timbers, as shown in figure 232.  When in place these poles are about 4 feet high, set upright, with a straight stick resting in the forks, as shown clearly in plate LXXXIV.  Another short stick is placed horizontally across the doorway timbers at a point about 3-1/2 feet below the apex, at the level of and parallel with the cross-stick of the door-frame.  The space between this cross-stick and the apex is left open to form an exit for the smoke.  Sometimes when the hogan is unbearably smoky a rough chimney-like structure, consisting of a rude cribwork, is placed about this smoke hole.  Such a structure is shown in plate LXXXIII.

The doorway always has a flat roof formed of straight limbs or split poles laid closely together, with one end resting on the crosspiece which forms the base of the smoke hole and the other end on the crosspiece of the door-frame.  The whole doorway structure projects from the sloping side of the hogan, much like a dormer window.  Sometimes the doorway roof is formed by a straight pole on each side of the smoke hole crosspiece to the crosspiece of the door-frame, supporting short sticks laid across and closely together with their ends resting on the two poles.  This style of doorway is shown in plate LXXXIV.

The sides of the projecting doorway—­that is, the spaces between the roof and the sloping doorway timbers—­are filled in with small sticks of the required length.  Sometimes the ends of these sticks are bound in place with twigs of yucca, being made fast to the door-frame, but generally they are merely set in or made to rest against the outer roof covering.  Usually the larger timbers are roughly dressed on the sides toward the interior of the hut, and the smaller poles also are stripped of bark and rough hewn.

The entire structure is next covered with cedar bark; all the interstices are filled with it, and an upper or final layer is spread with some regularity and smoothness.  Earth is then thrown on from base to apex to a thickness of about six inches, but enough is put on to make the hut perfectly wind and water proof.  This operation finishes the house, and usually there are enough volunteers to complete the work in a day.

It is customary to make a kind of recess on the western side of the hut by setting out the base of the poles next to the west timber some 8 to 15 inches beyond the line.  This arrangement is usually placed next to and on the south side of the west timber, and all the poles for a distance of 3 or 4 feet are set out.  The offset thus formed is called the “mask recess,” and when a religious ceremony is performed in the hogan, the shaman or medicine-man hangs a skin or cloth

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Navaho Houses, pages 469-518 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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