Notes on Terminology

[Native terms are in italics.]

1.         Pueblo ceramic vessels, including those on display from the villages of Acoma, Laguna, Zuni, and Hopi, are living objects; each vessel has a spirit. On Acoma, Laguna, Zuni, and Hopi ceramics, a painted double line with ends that do not connectoften encircles the vessel just below the rim on the interior surface. This is called a spirit line or spirit break. One interpretation of the spirit line motif is that the open line’s presence permits the spirit of the vessel to enter and leave it.

            At the time the ceramics on display here were made, women were the potters. An additional interpretation of the spirit line motif is that to close the spirit line would end a woman’s childbearing capacity.

2.         Kachina, katcina, and katsina are among the several common spellings for the gods and spirits that comprise the Hopi world. For the purpose of this document, katsina (singular) and katsinam (plural) are the chosen spelling in American English. This is the spelling preferred by the Hopi (the Zuni do not seem to have a preferred English spelling) and, for the sake of consistency, this spelling is extended to all objects with katsinam in the collection, regardless of the cultural affiliation.

                        As Barton Wright writes, “Kachinas are the spirit essence of everything in the real world.” A list of the katsinam, in effect, provides an inventory of the important natural and supernatural elements in the Hopi (or Zuni or other Pueblo world; the supernatural world is no less a part of the real world as the Pueblos understand it).

3.         The Hopi have a pottery tradition that extends back well into the Pre-contact period (AD 1539 in the American Southwest), that is, back into ancient times. Their fine ceramics included Jeddito-Black-on-Yellow and Black-on-Orange, Sikyatki Polychrome and other types. Some types such as Sikyatki Polychrome (AD 1375-1625) continued into the Post-contact period. By the start of the 19th century, however, Hopi pottery making was in decline as pottery was increasingly replaced by metal pots.

            Beginning in the mid-late 17th century, and perhaps earlier, Hopi pottery was influenced by Zuni designs, and also by Tewa designs and, to a lesser extent, Keres designs from the Rio Grande area; Tewa influence increased markedly after Tewa people arrived at Hopi around AD 1700 and settled the village of Hano on First Mesa; these Tewa moved west following the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. It was Nampeyo (Snake Girl [1859 or 1860-1942]) a Tewa-Hopi woman and potter who is often credited with reviving Hopi pottery making. Tewa influence is seen in design motifs and especially in jar shapes and other forms.

            Zuni influence on Hopi ceramics can be seen in the frequency of Zuni motifs such as the rain bird depicted in the interior of bowls and the lotemla wohanapa (all different kinds of feathers hang down) motif on the exterior of bowls. The Hopi adopted these motifs during their several migrations to Zuni Pueblo starting in the 1820s and continuing through the 1860s and 1870s to avoid the scourge of measles epidemics and other diseases. The presence of these Zuni motifs on Hopi pottery is reflected in names such as Polacca Polychrome Style C, Zuni Modified. Zuni influence is also apparent in Hopi jar and bowl shapes. It must be noted, however, that while the Hopi adopted these motifs and applied them to their ceramics, the meanings of the motifs may not have accompanied the designs; that is, the Hopi may have used the Zuni motifs without using the Zuni symbolism.


For Acoma and Laguna pottery:

Bunzel , Ruth.  The Pueblo Potter.  New York: Dover Publications, [1972].

Dillingham, Rick and Melinda Elliott.  Acoma and Laguna Pottery.  Santa Fe,

    NM: School of American Research Press, c1992.

Harlow, Francis.  Matte-Paint Pottery of the Tewa, Keres, and Zuni Pueblos. 

    [New Mexico: Museum of New Mexico, 1973]

-----.  Two Hundred Years of Historic Pueblo Pottery: The Gallegos Collection

    Santa Fe: Morning Star Gallery, c1990.

Mera, H. P.  Pueblo Designs: Illustrations of the “Rain Bird.”  New York: Dover

    Publications, 1970, c1938.

For Hopi pottery:

Bunzel, Harlow, Mera, as cited above; and

Wade, Edwin and Lea McChesney.  Historic Hopi Ceramics. Cambridge, MA:

    Peabody Museum Press, 1981.

For Hopi katsina dolls:

Colton, Harold.  Hopi Kachina Dolls, with a Key to Their Identification

    Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, [1979, c1959].

Wright, Barton.  Hopi Kachinas: The Complete Guide to Collecting Kachina

    Dolls.  Flagstaff: Northland Press, c1977.

For Zuni pottery:

                        Harlow and Mera as cited above.