"'You are fifteen,' said old Mitsima, in the Indian words. 'Now I may teach you to work the clay.'"

The Zuni are famous for their pottery.

Zuni Girl With Pot
Public DomainZuni Girl With Pot - Credit: Edward S. Curtis 1903, Library of Congress

In the past Zuni women created pottery for food and water storage. Today, the sale of pottery and other traditional crafts forms a large part of many families’ incomes. The clay used is sourced locally.

1. First, the clay is prepared by grinding, sifting and then mixing with water.

2. After the clay has been shaped into a pot or ornament, it will be scraped until smooth.

3. A thin layer of finer clay will be applied to the surface for extra smoothness, after which the vessel is polished with a stone.

4. The piece is then painted using home-made organic dyes and a traditional yucca (a plant with sword-like leaves) brush. The shape, design and images reflect the function of the pot.

5. Originally, the Zuni fired the pottery using sheep dung in traditional kilns. Today, modern electric kilns are used instead.

Follow this link to see images of Zuni pottery.

Click here to see more Zuni art.

Zuni women making pottery beneath a drying platform for crops
Public DomainZuni women making pottery beneath a drying platform for crops - Credit: Panama-California Exposition 1915, Library of Congress