CATALINA ZUNIE American Indian (Zunie), 1862 – 1949
Water jar, circa 1890
Gift of Burt Meyers in memory of his mother, Mrs. Sallie Key Meyers
Master A:shiwi (Zuni) potter Catalina Zunie, devoted herself to keeping the ceramic traditions of her people viable in the twentieth century. The first teacher of ceramics at Zuni High School, she was known as “Mother Zunie” by her students. This magnificent pot was given to Sallie Key Meyers, a teacher on the Zuni Reservation in the late 1920s by Zunie and her daughter Flora, and kept in the Meyers family until 2017 when it was donated to the Muscarelle Museum of Art. Zunie’s legacy is evident in the exquisite ceramics that her descendants and other talented Zuni potters make on the reservation today, for use by the community and for sale to collectors.
The construction of Zuni pottery is done with careful attention to rituals and prayers for each part of the ceramic process; gathering clay, straining the clay, kneading the clay, molding the coils, building the pot by hand, applying slip, painting motifs and finally firing the pot. Made to hold water, a necessary and precious element for the Zuni people who live in a desert landscape, Zunie has decorated this pot with stylized rain clouds and water birds. In the skilled hands of Mother Zunie, clay and paint have become a physical manifestation of a Zuni prayer for rain.