Zuni Indians

The Zuni Indians, who were inhabitants of the deserts of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah, are said to be descendants of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples. In fact is has been shown that they may have lived in in this area for over 1,300 years.  That is quite extensive. 

The Zuni Indians were great pottery makers.  The pottery they produced was made for everyday use, including cooking, storage, bathing, and religious ceremonies. All of the pieces were painted and carved carefully with designs that told a story.   It was prepared first by grinding stone, and then sifting and mixing it with water. After the clay was shaped, it was smoothed with a scraper and polished with a stone. Each piece was hand- painted with organic dyes using a yucca brush. The ultimate function of the pottery was determined by its shape, and its design and painted images. To this day, the process of firing the pottery is sometimes done the traditional way, by using sheep droppings and hot kilns.  Modern day Zuni pottery is now fired in modern, electric kilns.

The selling of pottery and other traditional arts and crafts is a major source of income for the Zuni Indians.  In some cases, the only source of income.  Other art forms the Zuni Indians created were clothing, jewelry (created for ritual and trade), baskets, and Kachina dolls.  Kachina dolls were hand carved out of wood.  After they were carved to their liking, they clothed them in masks and costumes to look like the men who dressed up as Kachina spirits. They were also given to children as a means of learning about the Kachinas, or Gods. The Southwest Indians believed that the Kachinas would come down to earth and help them tend their fields; provide wisdom about agriculture and government. Drawings of these Kachinas have been found on cave walls.

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