Aug 18, 2005

Water Jar (Olla) with Rainbird

Water Jar (Olla) with Rainbird

1850–60

Ceramic, slip

Overall: 25.5 x 33 cm (10 1/16 x 13 in.)

Gift of Amelia Elizabeth White 1937.898

Description

Zuni (A:shiwi) women used ollas (oy-ahs) like this one to collect, carry, and store water. The water well was a place for socializing, and the vessels’ public visibility may help to explain their elaborate, deftly painted decoration—here an abstract creature called the Rainbird whose beak spirals between two stylized, stepped wings that may allude to moisture-bearing clouds. Milford Nahohai, the contemporary Zuni potter, believes the motif is inspired by rain clouds that roll into the Zuni River Valley, their leading edges curled under the main mass to form a curve like that of the beak.

See also
Department: 
Art of the Americas
Type of artwork: 
Ceramic
Medium: 
Ceramic, slip

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