Zuni PuebloToday, Zuni Pueblo produces award-winning artists and teachers who pass on the pottery tradition from one generation to the next.
Traditional Name: A’shiwi, meaning “The Flesh.” Zuni pueblo is located 40 miles south of Gallup, New Mexico. The people have inhabited the Zuni River Valley since the last millenium B.C. Their language is spoken no other place on earth.
In the 18th century, Zuni potters began making iron oxide black pigment. They used it on redware with white slip, thus creating Zuni’s signature motifs which included the deer heart-line, rosettes, birds, water serpent, lizards and many other designs. The abstract zig-zag lines represent the water flowing on the earth. Other design elements used by the Zuni are appliqué frogs and lizards. The designs were painted using limonite (turns red in the firing process); hematite and boiled bee weed (turns brown / black on firing) on a Kaolin white slip. This method was used by the neighboring Acoma and Laguna pueblos. Like the Acoma, Zuni pottery has a velvety white surface and is made by using tempered pottery shards. The Zuni are also known for their small pottery pieces created for the tourist trade as well as traditional forms such as ollas, effigies, bowls, seed jars and figurines. Zuni pottery was in a decline by the 1950’s due to artists making jewelry instead.
A revival began during the 1960’s and 70’s when help arrived from other pueblos. Zuni High School pottery classes were taught by potters who had married into the pueblo and today, other notable Zuni potters continue to teach the skills of their craft.