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Historic Zuni Pueblo Small Heartline Deer and Medallion Jar


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  • Category: Historic
  • Origin: Zuni Pueblo
  • Medium: clay, pigment
  • Size: 4-¾” height x 5-½” diameter
  • Item # C4078N
  • Price: $750.00

When the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe train arrived in New Mexico in 1879, it became obvious that the arriving tourists were eager to take back home with them souvenir items from the previously-unknown, to them, Indians of New Mexico.  C. G. Wallace, the best-known Indian trader at Zuni Pueblo exerted his influence on the tribal members in what they should make to satisfy this demand for souvenirs.

Before C. G. Wallace, there had been other traders at Zuni and each had his influence in some way.  The first licensed trader was William Wallace who arrived in 1874. The next was Douglas D. Graham who arrived in 1879 and stayed for 20 years, trading manufactured goods for grain, sheep, and wool.  His biggest influence over the Zunis was to get them raising cattle which he then traded to distant markets. The third licensed trader was Andrew Vanderwagen, a family name still known today. C. G. Wallace arrived in 1918 and stayed until 1970.  His contributions were in stimulating a revival and expansion of jewelry making. His effect on pottery production was the reverse, supposedly because he did not wish to ship pottery.

What had a devastating effect on Zuni pottery was the vast number of expeditions to Zuni, in the late 1800s, collecting thousands and thousands of household items, including pottery.  The long-term effect of this was that Zuni potters no longer had classic examples of pottery by which to influence production of new wares. The loss of this library of examples greatly reduced the designs available to consult.

The most associated design today to Zuni pottery is the heart-line deer.  It has been used constantly since the beginning of the 20th century. It had been used previously, as early as 1840 on Kiapkwa polychrome, but seems to have taken over design preferences in the 20th century.  Although it is always referred to as heart-line deer, some representations appear to be antelope and elk. The design consists of a red line from the mouth of the animal to the heart. It has been defined as the sacred breath of life of the animal.  Zuni feather motifs are generally used to form an arch or a “house” over the deer.

Rosettes or flowers in a circular pattern are generally used on the body of the jar as dividers between deer designs.  The neck design on Zuni jars is always different in style from the body design. One of the popular designs is what is referred to as a “dagger” which often appears to be an arrow.  Sometimes, as in this small jar, a bird’s eye appears in the arrowhead portion.

This small jar appears to date to the early 20th century and was most certainly made as an item to sell. Jars of such small sizes generally had no useful function in a pueblo household. That a jar was made for sale rather than for use does not make it any less special The processes for making either are identical, so no scorn should be passed on one made to be sold.

Condition: this Historic Zuni Pueblo Small Heartline Deer and Medallion Jar is in very good condition

Provenance: from the extensive collection of a Colorado resident

Reference: The Pottery of Zuni Pueblo by Dwight P. Lanmon and Francis H. Harlow

  • Category: Historic
  • Origin: Zuni Pueblo
  • Medium: clay, pigment
  • Size: 4-¾” height x 5-½” diameter
  • Item # C4078N
  • Price: $750.00

C4078N-zuni.jpgC4078N-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.