Pueblo pottery is one of the oldest and most revered art forms of the Native American culture. It has been preserved, protected, and recreated for centuries to ensure that the rich, cultural tradition continues and thrives in modern society. |
Puebloan people are a group of Native Americans who originate in the southwestern part of the United States. This collection of people is divided into six different language groups. The Puebloan people live in stone villages from Taos, New Mexico all the way to northern Arizona. There are currently twenty-one surviving Puebloan groupings in the United States. The most well known of these groups are the Taos, Zuni, Hopi, and Acoma people.
The clay art that these Native Americans are known for producing is made entirely by hand, without the assistance of any sort of machine or potter's wheel. The artists even go so far as to create their own dyes and brushes made out of yucca plants. The clay is collected from the surrounding areas in which the artist lives. An offering of cornmeal, or maize, to Mother Earth usually precedes the collecting of the clay. This offering is made as a way to ask permission from Mother Earth to use some of her own land to create this artwork, which helps provide money for basic necessities. Plants, minerals and flowers are ground down and used as paints, while stones, rocks and vegetable rinds are used in the shaping process of the pueblo pottery. This is the same process of creating the artwork that the ancestors of the Puebloan people used, and the modern-day Puebloans choose to honor this tradition, while also continuing to craft with the same tools and methods are their predecessors.
Once the clay is collected, it must be dried before it can be soaked. Once dried, the clay is then soaked in washtubs to return some of the moisture that was lost from the removal of minerals in the drying process. The clay is then tempered with sand or pieces of broken pots in order to help the clay bind together and become a workable medium. The clay is then sanded and scraped into the preferred shape using corncobs, lava rocks, steel wool or sand paper. "Judgment Day" is the day when the pots are fired in the man-made kiln. This is a very stressful day for the pueblo pottery makers because one large gust of wind could easily drop the temperature of the kiln, and cause the pots to explode or topple over.
Not every piece of pueblo pottery will survive the creation process, but this tumultuous tradition is what makes these pieces of art so valuable to the people who attempt to create them. Even the broken pots are considered a work of art because of all the time and dedication that went in to the process. This tradition will continue to be passed on through the generations so that every Puebloan person will be able to enjoy the beauty and honor that goes along with this delicate art form.
If you're looking for authentic Pueblo pottery, Durango has just what you need. Come on in to the Toh-Atin Gallery to see these historic, authentic pieces of art. Learn more at http://www.toh-atin.com.
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