Kivas (Hopi for "old house") are sacred ceremonial chambers of the present-day Pueblo Indians of Arizona and New Mexico; they are also found in the ruins of the prehistoric Anasazi culture. The kivas traditionally belong to the religious fraternities in Pueblo society, whose members perform secret rites from which the uninitiated are excluded. Most kivas are semisubterranean, built along clefts on the edge of the mesa with the roof of the kiva level with the ground surface. These rectangular or circular stone rooms have no doors and can be entered only by hatchways, descending by ladders through the roof. In addition to being used for the performance of esoteric rituals, the kivas also traditionally serve as council chambers and workshops, where the men do the weaving.


Kenneth Stewart

Bibliography: Scully, V., Pueblo, 2d ed. (1989); Vivian, G., and Reiter, P., Great Kivas of Chaco Canyon and Their Relationships (1972).