Birds are beautiful, and I love to see them in the woods and fields where they live. Our trip west during most of last month mainly was a birding trip, though we always try to add in some art. Our trip to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe was a double bonus because the Center for New Mexico Archaeology, which is part of the museum, featured the role of birds in native art and culture. The two photos above show some of the bird pottery that was in this very enlightening exhibit.
"This yearlong exhibit, 'Birds: Spiritual Messengers of the Skies' discusses the importance of birds to Native American culture both in the past and present, including the importance of birds as a resource for tools, feathers and food. The study of birds in archaeology is also included in this exhibit." (source: New Mexico Audubon Society)
I was fascinated by many of the facts presented in the exhibition, which had many examples of historic art works that included bird imagery. Real birds such as ducks, hummingbirds, owls, and songbirds are depicted in both prehistoric and contemporary pottery designs, as well as legendary birds like the thunderbird. I learned that the tribes of the region, prior to European contact, kept two domesticated birds: turkeys, which were native to most of Central and North America, and macaws, which were native to areas much further south, but were traded among all the tribes of the region. I think the second image above shows two macaws.
While we were in Santa Fe, we visited our favorite Indian art store, Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery. I found many bird-themed pots on the Andrea Fisher website, and on other commercial websites selling Indian pottery. Other Indian art forms, such as jewelry and weavings, also depict birds, but I've selected some images that show specific birds that we also enjoyed seeing during our birding expeditions.
|A roadrunner on a pot by Seferina Bell of the Zia Pueblo.|
|Maybe an Eagle by Glendora Daubs of the Jemez Pueblo (1983).|
|An owl family by Loren Wallowing Bull of the Jemez Pueblo (2022).|
|Three quail by Carolyn Concho of Acoma Pueblo (2022)|
|A turkey by Sofia Medina and Lois Medina, Zia Pueblo (2022).|
|From the 1980s: a hummingbird by Dolorita Pino of the Zia Pueblo (source).|
|Potters at the Zia Pueblo produced bird-themed jars as early as 1820.|
This one is from around 1870. (source)
|Thunderbird pot, artist not named, Hopi Pueblo.|
|The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe. (source)|