Owl Figure

About this object

Narrative

Originally purchased from the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, then collected through EBay. 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

Round owl has details hand painted in brown directly on to the unpainted orange clay background. A thick band covers the bottom area and the band of overlapping feathers circles the middle section, from open pincer-like beak and over the top of flat protruding wings and tail. Ears are fat conical knobs, the eyes are fringed with multiple eyelashes, and there is a hole below the tail.