Historic Zuni Pueblo Polychrome Pottery Dough Bowl with Ethnographic Wear

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Once Known Native American Potter
  • Category: Historic
  • Origin: Zuni Pueblo, SHE-WE-NA
  • Medium: clay
  • Size: 8" deep x 16" diameter
  • Item # 09542
  • Price: $12500

Legacy in Clay: The Artistry and Tradition of the 19th Century Zuni Pueblo Dough Bowl

This remarkable Zuni Pueblo dough bowl stands out from the norm. While most Zuni dough bowls typically measure around 14 inches or less in diameter, this particular piece defies convention with its impressive 16-inch diameter.

The bowl hails from the last quarter of the nineteenth century, carrying with it a rich history and cultural significance. The paste materials used are quintessentially Zuni: a chunky, white texture infused with the centuries-old temper material of ground pottery shards. The incorporation of these ancient remnants into new work reflects the deep respect the pueblo peoples hold for the craftsmanship of their predecessors.

The bowl's rim exhibits a subtle indentation on the exterior, while the interior gracefully curves inward. This design element is a hallmark of Zuni bowls, adding both aesthetic appeal and functionality. The bowl follows traditional methods, with cream-colored clay forming the base. Over this, intricate designs were meticulously painted using mineral and vegetal pigments. Meanwhile, the underbody was slipped in black—a practice that dates back to the mid-1860s and continues to this day.

The outer surface boasts traditional Zuni volutes, which serve as an early representation of the Rain Bird—a symbol deeply rooted in Zuni culture. The interior decoration begins with a brown rim, below which a wave-like motif encircles the bowl, painted in vibrant red and outlined in brown. Two wide parallel framing lines, punctuated by a ceremonial break, further enhance the visual appeal. Finally, the heart of the bowl features intricate Zuni volute design elements, culminating in a red four-pointed star at the base.

This Historic Zuni Pueblo Polychrome Pottery Dough Bowl not only exemplifies artistic skill but also embodies the continuity of tradition and reverence for the past.


Condition: a section of the bowl was broken but, fortunately, it was complete and able to be replaced professionally.

Provenance: this Historic Zuni Pueblo Polychrome Pottery Dough Bowl with Ethnographic Wear is from a gentleman from Santa Fe

References: 

- Harlow, Francis H. and Dwight P. Lanmon. The Pottery of Zuni Pueblo, 2008

THE ‘RAIN BIRD’: a Study in Pueblo Design by H. P. Mera.  Memoirs of the Laboratory of Anthropology, vol. II. Santa Fé, New Mexico, 1937

TAGS: Zuni PuebloPueblo Pottery

Alternate view of the side of this bowl.

Once Known Native American Potter
  • Category: Historic
  • Origin: Zuni Pueblo, SHE-WE-NA
  • Medium: clay
  • Size: 8" deep x 16" diameter
  • Item # 09542
  • Price: $12500

09542-bowl2.jpg09542-large2.jpg Click on image to view larger.