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

Egg-shaped gray clay owl, with round hole in base, is hand painted in brown and orange over a creamy beige burnished background. Overlapping feather pattern covers lower body with slanting striped wings and fanned stripes on the tail, and head has curly U-shaped feathers overall. Eyes are surrounded with v-shaped lashes.