Object: Effigy Jar

E/1956/6/5
Owl Effigy Jar
Pueblo of Zuni
North America: New Mexico
ca. 1912
Material: Ceramic

This object is an effigy jar in the form of an owl. It was produced by the Pueblo of Zuni around 1912 in present-day New Mexico. It measures 12.25 inches tall by 10 inches wide and is made from two separate pieces. Jars like this one are decorated with pottery slips, a method in which ceramic vessels are dipped in colored clay (see video below). The body of the jar has two wing-like projections on each side and a tail-like projection on the rear. There are also two horned projections on the head. Two frogs decorate the breast of the figure and may serve as symbols of rain. According to some Zuni artists, ceramic owl effigies have been in production for at least 400 years and have been used for ceremonial purposes. Among the Zuni, owls are often viewed as messengers of alertness. The Zuni people refer to themselves as A:shiwi and maintain a linguistically unique language that is unrelated to other languages in the area. The Pueblo of Zuni has been one of the most often visited groups of Native Americans by anthropologists and European surveyors. The pueblo has undergone many changes in pottery production, land holdings, and government. In the past century, the arts market has flourished, while over 450,000 acres of land holdings have been accumulated in Arizona and New Mexico, and the Zuni government has changed from a theocracy to a secular tribal council government.

[Lauren Simons]

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Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

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