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

Hand coiled, bulbous orange clay owl has extended flat, horizontal wings and tail with thickly painted edges. Dark brown, hand painted scalloped feathers cover lower portion of thinly slipped and polished white body, and hatching fills the outlined head area. Conical ears, eyes and recessed mouth with overhanging beak are painted matte orange and outlined in brown.