Native American Zuni pottery, by Randy Nahohai, son of Josephine. Red, black, and white finish. Entirely hand formed and painted using organic materials. The brown and orange paints are micaceous. Randy digs his own clay and makes his own paint, and is exceedingly respective of Zuni traditional symbolism, always maintaining historical significance in form and element.
The deer in the house design is attributed as a solely Zuni design. The deer is located in his house, and the women potters did this because it brought good luck to the hunter of the family. The rosette is a common symbol in Zuni pottery and there has been much speculation as to its origin. Ruth Bunzel, among others has attributed its origin to the rosette symbol on the Catholic alter cloths of the Spanish friars, dating back to around 1600 or so. Matilda Stevenson speculated that it was a symbol for the sunflower. Nancy Yaw Davis, in the book the Zuni Enigma speculated its origins may have been from the far east, and associated its becoming with the advent, and temporary tenure, of the lead glazing of pottery which took place in the St. John’s area circa 1325 AD, when polychrome pottery was developed. The rosette, or hepa’kinne, represents the multireferentiality of the directional center (iti wa na), and is normally associated with plenitude.
The deer is a symbol for immortality, for the hunter’s ritual in killing is always centered on the notion that the deer will return in its true form, to live again. The heartline of the deer represents its breath (pinna) which the successful hunter hopes to capture when the deer breathes its last breath.