The Hopi Indians live in northeastern Arizona where their Anasazi ancestors established a civilization based on dry farming centuries ago. Corn and all that is needed for it to thrive is the basis of both the Hopi Indian tribe’s physical sustenance, their spiritual traditions and their art.

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Recognizing Pottery Made by Hopi Indian Artists

There are some common threads running through the various styles and designs of pottery created by Hopi Indian artists. First is the color: Hopi pottery is mostly buff-colored and decorated with terra cotta and black paints. The earth tone-dominated color scheme of Hopi pottery hints at the tribe’s connection to the Land.

A second common thread among Hopi Indian pottery is characteristic patterns. Hopi Indian artists favor three designs:

  • Migration
  • Eagle
  • Butterfly Maiden

Each of these patterns reinforces the importance of Land to the Hopi Indians’ way of life.

The Significance of Patterns

The Migration pattern is created by a repetition of curving feathers moving in the same direction. Within the feathers are fine lines similar to those see on Acoma Pueblo pottery. The Migration pattern symbolizes the movement of the Hopi Indian people to find new sources of food and water in times of drought.

The Eagle (sometimes depicted as just the Eagle tail pattern) is special among the Hopi Indians as the carrier of prayers to the Creator. The Eagle is associated with courage and wisdom.

The Butterfly Maiden can often be identified by a headdress adorned by feathers, shapes suggestive of wings and/or upward-pointing arrows. Butterfly Maiden is a fertility kachina, ruling the springtime and governing the Earth’s fertility.

Hopi Indian Pottery Art: The Nampeyo Line and Frog Woman

Hopi Indian pottery as art is largely credited to Nampeyo who was creating pottery in the 1880s when Western expansion fed curiosity about the “Wild West” back East. Her work stood out among that of other potters’, which won her recognition of American artists. Her skills and style have been passed down through the generations, and many renowned Hopi Indian pottery artists are descendants of Nampeyo.

Another famous line of Hopi Indian artists are those from the clan of Frog Woman. Joy Navasie, known as Frog Woman because of the frog she painted on the bottom of her pieces as a signature, was known for her work with white pottery. Her pieces have become collectibles, although her descendants also create pottery in her signature style.

Add Hopi Indian Pottery Art to Your Collection

Palms Trading Company carries a selection of fine Hopi Indian pottery from artists of the Nampeyo line, Frog Woman tradition and others. If you would like to experience the magic (and benefits) of authentic Native American Indian pottery, add a Hopi Indian piece to your collection. Our personal shopper can assist you in exploring our larger Albuquerque, in-store collection. Contact us to get started.

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