University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Kuaua Kiva Drawings Collection 1934-1963

© 2020 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Kuaua Kiva Drawings. Collection




3 linear feet (1 folder)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


The Kuaua Kiva Drawings Collection contains quarter-size reproductions of murals found in a ceremonial underground room (a kiva) built between 1300 and 1600 by the people of Kuaua, a Tiwa settlement near Bernalillo, New Mexico. The images reproduce to-scale paintings made during the excavation of Kuaua beginning in 1934.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Kuaua Kiva Drawings. Collection, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Historical Note

Beginning in 1934, the Kiva murals at Kuaua were re-discovered and excavated by a team of archaeologists from the Museum of New Mexico. In one kiva (an underground ceremonial room), excavators found three walls with 85 layers of plaster bearing figural and abstract paintings. The kivas and their paintings were created between 1300 and 1600 by the Tiwa or Tigua people of Kuaua, near Bernalillo, New Mexico. Excavators removed each layer of plaster and transported them to local museums, hiring artists to paint to-scale reproductions on canvas as each layer was uncovered. Prints of these paintings were then distributed to scholars.

Scope Note

The Kuaua Kiva Drawings Collection contains 17 quarter-size silk-screen reproductions of the Kiva Murals of Kuaua. The prints are organized by layer; since not all layers were painted, each painting is identified by a letter indicating which painting it is, and a number indicating which layer. For instance, layer A8 is the eighth layer of plaster but the first painted layer.

The replica paintings were created as each layer of plaster was uncovered during the excavation, and excavators reported that they were painted mostly by indigenous artists. Their subject matter has been identified in subsequent publications. Quarter-size prints of these reconstructions were distributed to academics between the excavation in the 1930s and the site’s publication in 1963 (Bertha P. Dutton, Sun Father’s Way: The Kiva Murals of Kuaua).

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:

Browse finding aids by topic.

Eggan, Fred. Papers

Subject Headings


Folder 1

Kuaua Kiva Drawings

  • #1 – Layer A-8, Ceremonial of the Sun cult.
  • #2 – Layer A-8, Unidentified.
  • #3 – Layer B-9, Initiation into the katsina society.
  • #4 – Layer B-9, Shumaikoli/Layer J-34 Scalp ceremony.
  • #5 – Layer D1-17, Unidentified personage concerned with weather control.
  • #6 – Layers D1-17, D14, Autumn ceremony for fructification.
  • #7 – Layer E-19, Salimapiya participating in a ceremonial rabbit hunt which precedes initiation into the katsina society.
  • #8 – Layer F-23, A summer rain ceremony, Summer solstice.
  • #9 – Layer G-26, A depiction of the Universe.
  • #10 – Layer G-26, Altar decoration; Sula (animal appearing on south end of altar).
  • #11 – Layer G-26, Owa or goose/Kupishtaya or lightning man.
  • #12 – Layer H1-32, Bats with rain symbols; a rain making ceremony with the game, Sholiwe.
  • #13 – Layer J-34, Scalp ceremony.
  • #14 – Layer K-36, Altars of Arrow Order.
  • #15 – Layer M-40, Hunting ceremony; scalp or war dance with initiation; Sumaikoli society.
  • #16 – Layer N-41, A major winter ceremony.
  • #17 – Layer O-43, Rabbit hunt with the Gods.