They have been trading their ceramics, basketry, and other products since the 1700's.
In earlier periods, elaborately painted Zuni pottery was used on a daily basis. Studies
indicate that nonspecialist potters produced most of Southwestern pottery for household
use, although specialized production of pottery occurred at specific times and places as
Did Males or Females Make the Zuni Pottery?
Females traditionally had the role of making pottery. They learned largely by observation
and imitation of their mother, aunts, grandmothers, or other adult females in the village.
Formal direct instruction is apparently rare, although adults may correct children who are
imitating them and give brief instructions. Learning appears to follow a sequence that
mirrors the production sequence, with forming of vessels at the youngest age, followed by
decoration, and finally firing, with the progression largely driven by the child's interest
and skill level. Specific ages are rarely given.
Females were probably responsible for forming and firing the vessels, and in most areas
for decorating them as well. Adults expended time and effort in painting pottery, and the
endless variety of designs suggest that value was placed on artistry, creativity, and
innovation among Southwestern farming communities.
Pottery Used For Food Preparation and Serving- The Ceremony
Food preparation and serving is an essential component of all Pueblo ceremonies. All
important ceremonies were usually attended with feasting. Special foods may be
associated with particular ceremonies that require planning and preparation to ensure
that the ingredients are at hand.
Cooking may take place for several days, if not weeks, before to feed participants after
rehearsals. Food preparation may play as important a role after each practice as it does in
the actual ceremony.
Depending on the scale of the ceremony, large labor groups may be recruited to prepare
foods, including the tasks of grinding and cooking, to make sure that enough food is
available. Ceramics may be used as containers for the preparation of feast foods, as a
means of transporting foods to other places where they are consumed, and as service to
participants and audience.
Why Did Zuni Cooking Pottery Increase To Very Large Sizes?
The Zuni boiled most meat consumed in the village, but when camped away from home,
they roasted it. Ceramic bowls were and still are an important component of the serving
of these stews. Large bones are left in the stew when served in communal bowls.
Historically, marrow processing was an important part of Zuni table manners. The
incorporation of large bones in the stew provided an important supplemental food source,
a pattern of meat processing and consumption that can be expected given high reliance on
agricultural products at any period.
Ethnographic research suggests that cooking jar sizes increased dramatically. It is
believed related to the fact that hominy and dumpling preparations entail boiling and
therefore require larger vessels. One common Zuni recipe used a method of double-
boiling—placing one pot within another, which required very large cooking jars.
These changes in Zuni cuisine may be one of the factors that contributed to the increases
in cooking jar and serving bowl sizes recently noted for the late prehistoric Pueblos.
However, as discussed below, other variables of the social context of consumption may
also have played important roles.
Trading post owner Sanders Wallace hired Zuni tribal members as clerks and jewelry
makers, providing them with the tools needed to make jewelry and silver artforms. In the
inadvertently influenced the use of some art materials and discouraged other, such as turtle
shell. Wallace provided the Zuni workers to utilize small-stone methods such as petit point
and needlepoint and encouraged other lightweight jewelry methods because the tourists
frequenting his store preferred these, therefore influencing future designs.
Zuni Pottery Making
The Zuñi village consisted of six pueblos along the north
bank of the upper Zuni Indian River, in western New
Mexico, at least 800 years ago. It is presently in the
In 1990, 7,073 Indians lived at Zuñi. Perhaps as many as
20,000 Indians lived there in 1500.
Zuni Pottery Maker, 1910.
Zuni Women Showing Their