Owl Figure

About this object

History of use

coin bank


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 orange clay pottery owl coin bank. Body shape is slightly different from the norm, head sits forward, leaving more space at back for money slot at base of neck. Hand painted in thick brushstokes of dark orange and dark brown over a cream slipped background. Body covered with feather pattern and spots. Mouth is open wide with top beak painted up to little horn-like ears. Eyes on the sides have protruding pupils and short fat lashes. Label glued onto base.