Owl Figure

About this object

Narrative

Pottery owls became important tourist items when the railroad and then Route 66 allowed for large numbers of tourists to travel to the Southwest. This collection of 192 Zuni pottery owls includes examples from before 1900 through 2006. Zuni potters continue to make owls and family traditions in the medium continue. While many younger potters are innovating, the owls are distinctly Zuni.

Iconographic meaning

In traditional Zuni lore, the owl is considered a wise guardian and protector. An owl’s ability to see at night means that it sees what others cannot, giving it understanding of the spiritual and physical world.

Physical description

Clay owl dressed as a Zuni maiden with an olla pot on her head. Dress, pot and body details are hand painted in black, brown and orange onto an off-white background. Shaded brown overlapping feathers are partially covered by the sleeveless dress which wraps over the right shoulder and under the left striped wing, with an opening for the tail (hole beneath it). Both dress and pot are decorated with geometric designs. The conical ears, loop beak, and cylindrical hair bun stick out from pot, as do the wing tips and tail.