Significant Symbols of Southwest Art

Symbols are an integral part of all cultures. Whether we think about symbols tied to religion, literature, poetry, architecture, ethnicity or art, each has a special and important significance. Symbols convey a specific and unique meaning that is of the utmost importance to those communities using them.

The symbols on Pueblo pottery and Native American jewelry have both real and perceived meaning attributed to them. Historical events have contributed to many of the symbols we see today, as have imaginative stories passed on long ago from the ancient ones. We would like to share a brief overview of the meaning of some of the symbols we see integrated into the artwork of today’s Native American artists. Read More

Posted: November 2, 2018 By:

Pueblo Native American Pottery and its Defining Characteristics

Here at Palms, when we say “Native American Pottery,” we usually mean pottery made by the Pueblo Indians.  Although other tribes practice the art, that of the Pueblos is best known.  While one pueblo often adapts certain features from a neighbor, each has its distinctive characteristics. 

Each Pueblo generally uses clay found nearby to create pottery.  The method of shaping the pots is the same; rolling the moist clay into a coil, shaping the coil by hand as desired, without the use of the potter’s wheel, and smoothing the surface with a stone or similar object.  Methods of firing differ, as is shown by the color and finish of each pot.  Each pueblo has its distinctive designs, many of them handed down or copied from those of prehistoric times.

It is wise re remember that most of Indian pottery will not hold water, unless a protective coating of shellac or the like is applied to the inside.  While some kinds may be wiped off with a damp cloth, this should be done with caution; with Tesuque, never.

Following are some brief notes to aid in the identification of the various types:

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Posted: October 26, 2018 By:

Native American Carved Stone Fetishes and Their Meanings

Native American Indians have used stone fetishes throughout recorded history; particularly those of the Southwest.  These stone fetishes represent the spirits of animals or the forces of nature and are most often used in an effort to master the arbitrary and unpredictable forces beyond their control.

Fetishes may be of any form or material.  Regardless of the form or material, however, a fetish has one paramount purpose: to assist man against any real or potential problems, which can be problems of the mind, body or even the universe.

Following is a list of several traditional and common fetishes, and their accompanying meanings.

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Posted: October 18, 2018 By:

Native American Indian Baskets of the Southwest

Native American Indian Art of all kinds often represents so much more than an item of monetary value. In fact, the value of much of the work of the Native Americans of the southwest runs far deeper than that. In her book Indian Baskets of the Southwest, Clara Lee Tanner explains the art of these peoples as “the expression of man’s sense of beauty, a sensitive mirror of his inner self, of his thinking and his doing. In his art, man reveals his history. Among the Indians of the Southwest, whose culture is tribal, art is a formalized expression that combines emotion and intellectuality, technical skills and creative thought; it is guided by the patterns of the tribal culture in which the artist lives. The culture of the tribe is fundamental to the art and style of the artist, and style provides cultural identity as well as time classification.” Read More

Posted: July 28, 2014 By:

Water Symbolism in Native American Indian Art

Pueblo peoples have inhabited the American Southwest for well over 500 years. Continued life in the arid region depends on water, and the importance of seasonal rains is evident in the traditional designs and patterns that adorn many types of Native American Indian art. Read More

Posted: July 28, 2014 By: