Zuni Pottery

Zuni Pueblo is approximately 40 miles south of Gallup, New Mexico. The Zuni call themselves "A'shiwi" and their language is spoken nowhere else in the world. Zuni pottery is made from their local clay, which is grayish to pink. The creation of a pot first involves digging the clay out of the ground, mixing it with water and sifting out impurities. Crushed potsherds are added as a temper then the sifted clay is left to dry to a working state. The pottery is coiled by hand and smoothed. The surface is sanded smooth and the pots are covered either in a white Kaolin slip (which comes from the Acoma/ Laguna area) or a red/ orange slip. Designs are created with limonite or yellow ochre, which fires red, and boiled bee weed mixed with crushed hematite creates the black/ brown. Pots are fired in a traditional pit kiln. Traditional design motifs such as the deer with a heartline, which first appeared prior to 1860, are still used today. Other popular motifs include: geometric/ abstract designs, the rain bird and applique figures such as lizards and frogs.
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