By Craig Chambers
Kiva Pueblo ladders or Wooden Indian log ladders as they are called are one of the most interesting elements of southwest décor. While traveling or visiting in the southwestern you will undoubtedly notice that wooden log ladders have become one of the most universal symbols used throughout southwest design and art.
Kiva ladders are decorative pueblo ladders usually made of pine poles that have been hand scraped. The rungs of the ladder are notched to fit into the upright poles and rawhide lacing is used to lash each joint together in a cross pattern. The ladder is narrower at the top than it is at the base which adds a dimension of height.
There is something interesting and intriguing about the grouping together of homes made of adobe with their Indian ladders on the roofs. The shape has become an icon in design for southwest decorating and style. Many homes in New Mexico and Arizona are built to imitate the design of the early pueblos and the kiva ladder is always an integral part. We find pueblos designed into rugs, dolls, pottery, paintings, art, and rustic furniture. And the rustic wooden ladders have become popular in cabins, log homes and also anywhere people like primitive or country style.
One great way to include the pueblo look and mood to your room without actually having pueblo designs is to use the same simple, pueblo ladder or kiva log ladder. The ladders give a subtle but unmistakable Pueblo feel to the design. A kiva ladder also creates a wonderful way to showcase a couple of your favorite southwest rugs or saddle blankets.
Other elements that look great with wooden ladders are Navajo blankets, Indian pottery and drums, wooden dough bowls and rustic lamps with rawhide lamp shades. Ladders can also be used to highlight special pattern you may like such as kokopelli or other village designs. The use of the kiva ladder as a display rack will further enhances the southwest theme in your room, add some additional color and give the ladder a greater sense of purpose and function.
Use your imagination. There is no limit to how log ladders can be used. One of the most interesting is to use two ladders together like an “A” frame with rustic boards between them on the ladders rungs for shelves. You probably already have some rugs you can use and maybe some southwestern design trinkets to show. Just add a small table beside it or an Indian drum and you will have created a unique and eye catching design.
Many people also use kiva ladders to store southwestern throw blankets to wrap up in during those cool winter evenings. You might use kiva ladders as a place to hang bed blankets or comforters in your bedroom when not in use. You can use kiva style Indian ladders in every room in the same or different ways without over doing it. So, if you want a truly outstanding southwest design element use Indian pueblo kiva ladders.
Craig Chambers is the director of Mission Del Rey, offering kiva Log Ladders and other Native handcrafts.
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