Pre-Spanish Contact

Stylized Drawing of ParrotStylized Drawing of ParrotAwa Tsireh (San Ildefonso), c. 1930-34
Ink on Paper
IAF.P188
Photograph by Jennifer Day
Courtesy of the School for Advanced Research

Example of how important tropical birds (and their feathers) were and continue to be in many Pueblo communities.
Shell PendantShell PendantZuni, b. 1952
Spiny oyster shell, turquoise, jet, white shell
IAF.S719
Photograph by Addison Doty
Courtesy of the School for Advanced Research

This contemporary shell pendant used on ceremonial regalia is similar to historical pieces that would have been traded or obtained through long expedititions to the Pacific.
“Snake Dance” Portrait“Snake Dance” PortraitAwa Tsireh (San Ildefonso), 1930
Watercolor on paper
SAR.1985-13-13
Photograph by Jennifer Day
Courtesy of the School for Advanced Research

Notice the incorporation of feathers and shell in the dancer’s regalia.
Stylized Drawing of ParrotShell Pendant“Snake Dance” Portrait

Prior to Spanish colonization of the Southwest region, tribes of the Plains, Southern California, and modern-day Mexico developed a complex exchange system. The unpredictable environment and varied climate conditions necessitated the establishment of trade networks to ensure all groups obtained the goods they needed each season for survival. Some scholars argue that the development of these trade structures sustained intricate social relations among tribes. Such relationships also supported the maintenance of ceremonial customs. For example, the Navajo regularly obtained ceremonial objects from the Southern Ute, Hopi, and Zuni; Cochiti Pueblo traded for Comanche buffalo chin beards; Zia Pueblo obtained Jicarilla coiled baskets for their naming ceremonies; and Tewa communities acquired red ocher, Comanche and Taos buffalo hides, and feathers and shells from the Keresan pueblos.

Macaw and parrot feathers from Zuni and Santo Domingo Pueblos were frequently traded with northern Rio Grande Pueblos. Eagle, turkey, and songbird feathers were also highly valued trade items among several tribes. These items still continue to hold special importance in ceremonial contexts today. By CE 1000 turquoise and copper began to be exchanged in addition to the stone, marine shell, and ceramic items that were already well-circulated trade goods.

Micaceous JarMicaceous JarPicuris, c.1930
Clay
IAF.2171
Photograph by Jennifer Day
Courtesy of the School for Advanced Research
Micaceous “Bean Pot”Micaceous “Bean Pot”Angie Yazzie (Taos), b. 1994
Clay
SAR.1994-7-7
Photograph by Addison Doty
Courtesy of the School for Advanced Research

A contemporary micaceous pot by Angie Yazzie, potter/participant in the IARC Micaceous pottery convocation.
Micaceous Pottery Artists ConvocationMicaceous Pottery Artists ConvocationParticipants in the Micaceous Pottery Artists Convocation, November 1994. Standing, from left to right: Lydia Pesata (Jicarilla Apache), Juanita DuBray (Taos), Christine McHorse (Navajo), Anthony Durand (Picuris), Felipe Ortega (Jicarilla Apache), Lonnie Vigil (Nambe). Sitting: Sharon Dryflower Reyna (Taos), Angie Yazzie (Taos), Dawn Antelope (Taos), Edna Romero (Taos). Courtesy of the School for Advanced Research.
Micaceous JarMicaceous “Bean Pot”Micaceous Pottery Artists Convocation

Notably, Taos, Picuris, and Jicarilla Apache and Navajo were well known traders of their micaceous cooking pottery dating back to CE 1300. Today, micaceous pottery is considered a popular style in art markets across the Southwest, not only for its unique aesthetic qualities, but also for its reputation as a strong and durable material. In November 1994, the Indian Arts Research Center held a Micaceous Pottery Artists Convocation that brought together ten potters to share and discuss their various pottery creations.

Follow us: