Ancient Chamorro Society 5


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Chapter 5: Shelter

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Vocabulary Adze: a carpenter’s tool for chipping and planning. Ayudu: to help, aid, assist, be of service, or give aid. Basalt: black or dark gray volcanic rock. Haligi: the pillar part of the latte stone. Higai: coconut leaves. Hima: giant clam.

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Vocabulary Lemon dichina: limeberry Manggi Hagatna: high-class people. It refers to people whose family are from Agana. Manggi sengsong: lower-class people. It refers to people whose family are not from Agana. Nette: swordgrass.

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Vocabulary Pagu: wild Hibiscus tree. Pi’ao: bamboo Pokse’: the bark fiber of the pagu tree, which was used to make rope, tassels, and clothing. Potsherds: a pottery fragment. Quarry: an open pit from which stone is obtained for building. Rituals: a ceremony performed in a particular way. Suni: taro.

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Vocabulary Tagon nette: swordgrass leaves sewn onto strips of bamboo to be used as shingles for a roof. Taotaomo’nas: ancestral spirits, ghosts, demons, disembodied souls or specters. Literally, “people of before”. Tasa: the cap part of the latte stone. Uritao: a social group of young, single males. Sometimes it is used a men’s house or bachelors’ quarters.

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Main Ideas Types of Ancient Chamorro Shelters Latte Houses Pole-and-thatch 2. Cultural Factors Castes 3. Building Materials and Tools Thatch, poles, stone etc.

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Introduction Miguel Lopez Legazpi considered ancient Chamorro “aboriginal” houses the best he’d seen. Studying ancient Chamorro shelters helps us learn about their lives. Some Micronesian peoples had rituals for construction. Most records are about latte houses.

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Types of Ancient Chamorro Shelters There is a lot of evidence that caves were used as shelters -potsherds (pottery fragmants) and charcoal found in cave -there are lusong in Talofofo Caves -evidence of suni patches near the caves Pole-and-thatch: built as emergency or temporary shelters -made from grass like nette and with poles. -they used coral gravel to for the floor and ground

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Latte Houses

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Latte Houses Latte stones: used as the foundation for large structures -first built around 845 CE. Some people think that latte stones are unique to Chamorro culture. Other people think they were brought by a conquering people along with slingstones and rice Latte stones are made up of haligi and tasa. A typical Latte house could be 11X33 ft. or 12X48. -usually 4 to 7 feet off the ground ~80% of Latte structures have eight supports.

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Latte Houses Latte stones are found on Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan ~138 latte villages on Guam Latte houses were usually parallel to the sea, a cliff, or a river. Latte sizes vary: -the oldest latte are ~4ft. high -largest stones are located in interior areas -Nieves latte quarry on Rota has an incomplete latte of ~16x7x4 ft. Spanish missionaries called latte “casa de los antiquos”

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Who Could Use Latte? Chamorri (matao and acha’ot) were allowed to use Latte Uritao: Latte were also used as men’s houses Some latte were used to store outriggers The largest latte were either for uritao, to store outriggers, or for both. Manachang were not allowed to build latte or learn advanced architecture. They live in pole-and-thatch shelters

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Latte Controversy Even though we know what latte stones look like, we don’t know what latte houses looked like. Felicia Plaza: believes latte houses were rectangular, not A-frame. -doors and walls were made of mats -moveable screens instead of walls Alejandro Lizama: believes latte were simple A-frame -more durable during earthquakes and storms -more stable

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Why Stone and not Wood? Pros -Stone is more practical—it doesn’t rot like wood does. -Good shock absorption during earthquakes -more durable during attacks Cons -Stone has to be quarried -harder to move

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Latte Production Sculpture by fire Find an area with good limestone Lay out the shapes for the haligi and tasa on the ground. Start fires in the outlines Break the heated limestone with basalt hammers. Cut around the outline until you get the shape you want. Use manpower and levers to lift the shape from the pit Make it look nice and pretty with basalt chisels and adzes .

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How we Latte Put Together? Latte were moved with a bi-pod Latte could be erected by: -using a bipod -using an inclined plane -using a four pole brace 3. Early tasa were dead coral heads. They were tied onto the haligi.

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Cultural Factors Ancient Chamorro houses were built for extended families and communities Esteemed dead were buried under the houses between latte rows Skulls were kept in baskets in the attic Latte houses could have had a spiritual function -there we latte houses on Tinian for people who had taken a special vow Relatives/friends helped build Ancient Chamorro houses are described as being very clean

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Cultural Factors Latte houses were usually built near rivers, springs, or wells. -each village had to have a fresh water supply Ancient Chamorro villages were ranked: -Hagatna was the most respected village. -People are still very proud of their village Latte houses were usually parallel to the sea -in Northern Guam, they were perpendicular. This might have been due to the breeze. Large latte houses were usually surrounded by an equal number of smaller latte

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Building Materials Ancient Chamorros used materials from their environment to build Thatch: usually made with higai, which were split and woven into shingles. -nipa and nette were also used. -Pandanus thatch can last about eight-years -akgak: sleeping mats, sails for canoes

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Building Materials Poles: there were three types of wood used -Niyok (coconut) -Pi’ao (bamboo) -Da’ok Coconut logs: used for construction, they are made be felling logs, burning the ends, and soaking them in seawater.

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Carpentry Tools

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Carpentry Tools Adze: an axe used for cutting, splitting, and planning. Tools were usually made of basalt and shell. Hima (Tridacna maxima and Tridacna squamosa) was often used for adzes. Hafted tools: tools with a handle, usually made with lemon dichina.

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Summary The ancient Chamorros built A-frame pole-and-thatch shelters. Latte houses are unique to this region of the world. Some people say ancient Chamorros invented them, others say conqueror’s brought them to the Marianas The lower caste—manachang—were not allowed to live in Latte houses or learn how to make them. Ancient Chamorro kept there dead nearby—they buried them under the house and kept skulls in the attic.

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In-class assignment Answer each of the prompts below on a sheet of paper. Each answer must be a paragraph (4-5 sentences) long. Why do you think that ancient Chamorros wanted to keep their dead relatives close to them? What are some pros and cons to making a latte house? Why do you think Guam survived but Rapanui did not?

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