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Reconstructing a Kiaha (Kiâhâ)

kiaha in use
A reconstructed kiâhâ in use with a forked helping stick.
photo of smaller kiaha basket
The smaller of the two carrying baskets "killed" over Burial 1 was used as a model for the reconstruction. All of the cordage was dyed red with ocher. The four support rods are missing.

Click images to enlarge  

drawing of weaver's knot
Schematic drawing of the exterior surface of the weaver's knot used to construct the netting.

Kiâhâs are cord-mesh carrying baskets used throughout the Southwest. The name 'kiâhâ' comes from the Pima language. These baskets comprise a cord netting supported by a hoop and four rods. In order to better understand the construction methods used to produce the kiâhâ recovered from Granado Cave, a small carrying basket was reconstructed using the methods originally used to create those excavated from the cave.

The kiâhâ is shown in use with a forked helping stick. The helping stick supports the kiâhâ while on the ground and could have served as a digging stick.

To make the reconstruction, the ends of two cottonwood branches were lashed together to form an oval. Four cottonwood support rods were also used. The two longest rods were lashed to the rope and tied together where they crossed at the base. Nineteen pairs of warps were used, along with 96 weft rows. For the reconstruction, modern three-ply jute cordage was used. The original basket was made from two-ply, Z-twist narrow-leaf yucca cordage, and yucca or agave flower stalk support rods.

The weaving method used to fabricate the mesh cord netting in the Granado Cave kiâhâs appears to be unique to the Rustler Hills, and employs a distinctive encircling of a weft cord around a warp cord. This technique is sometimes described as "old wrapped weaving," where the weft does not twine or interlace through the warp, but simply wraps around it. There are 19 pairs of warps and 96 weft rows, including 5 loose rows at the bottom of the basket. The reconstruction uses the same number of warps and wefts as the original basket.

photo of a reconstructed kiaha
The reconstruction was made of cottonwood branches (two for the hoop and four for the support rods), jute cord, and two broad-leaf yucca leaves for the head band of the tump line.
photo of reconstructed basket
Interior of the reconstructed basket shows the distinctive construction weave. Note the tump line is secured with four loops midway down