Polychrome wedding vase with deer in house, rosette and geometric design 
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Carlos Laate, Zuni, Polychrome wedding vase with deer in house, rosette and geometric design
Artist: Carlos Laate
Pueblo: Zuni
Dimensions: 8 1/4 in H by 6 1/2 in Dia
Item Number: xxzue6111
Price: $ 325
Description: Polychrome wedding vase with deer in house, rosette and geometric design
Condition: Excellent
Signature: RS Claate Zuni, New Mexico
Date Created: 2016
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Carlos Laate

Zuni Pueblo
Carlos Laate
Polychrome water jar
 

Carlos Laate was born into Zuni Pueblo in 1962, son of Etta Lynn and Lydatie Laate. He was inspired to make pottery by his grandmother, Daisy Hooey Nampeyo, and his aunt, Jennie Laate. Both women had taught pottery making at Zuni High School and are credited as being the impetus for the rebirth of the Zuni pottery tradition.

Carlos has been making pottery since 1987. He is 100% Zuni and prefers to use many of the old Zuni shapes (water jars, pitchers, owl effigies) and designs in his work. As his father worked for many years in the forests, and Carlos joined him often, you can see those influences in his use of turkeys, deer, birds and other wildlife in his designs. As Carlos says, there's a lot of forest out there with lots of beautiful places to hike and hunt.

Carlos has participated in many shows and won awards for everything from Best of Show (Twin Arrows Casino Resort, AZ) to Honorable Mention and Acquisition Awards to 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place ribbons in shows at the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market (Phoenix, AZ), Cherolette Hall (Prescott, AZ), Northern Arizona Museum (Flagstaff), and the Litchfield Park Native American Arts Festival (Litchfield Park, AZ). His work is also on display at the Utah Natural History Museum, University of Kansas-Lawrence, Tucson Museum of Art and the Heard Museum.


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Zuni Pueblo

A view of the Zuni Pueblo Welcome sign
Welcome sign at Zuni Pueblo

Archaeologists have dated some sites on the Zuni Reservation back to the Paleo-Indian Period, more than 4,500 years ago. During the Archaic Period (2,500 BC to 0 AD), the forebears of the Zuni were hunter-gatherers and just beginning to develop agriculture. The Basketmaker Period (0 AD to 700 AD) saw agriculture become more developed and the Zunis were making their first pottery. The Pueblo I Period (700 AD to 1100 AD) saw an expansion of the population and settlements in the Zuni River area along with the development of the first painted Zuni pottery.

The Pueblo III Period (from 1100 to 1300 AD) saw further population growth in the Zuni River area and a shift from small houses to larger, plaza-oriented villages. The Pueblo IV Period (1300 to 1500 AD) was the time of the great drought and migrations as many tribal groups abandoned the Four Corners area and moved to locations near the Rio Grande, Rio Puerco, Zuni River and Little Colorado River. The main Zuni Pueblo was founded during this time but there were several other large villages in the area, too.

In 1540 there was a major battle fought between the Zunis and the forces of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. Coronado was almost killed but his soldiers did win the battle. As Coronado traveled with horses and sheep, they were probably the first such livestock the Zunis had ever seen.

In 1542 Coronado passed by Zuni again on his way back to Mexico. He left three Mexican Indians behind with the tribe and they most likely informed the tribal leaders of the extent of the Spanish domain in Mexico and the power they exercised there.

The Zunis were mostly left alone until a Catholic mission was built at Hawikku in 1629. At first the Zunis were friendly with the priests but that had changed drastically by the time of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The tribe built a village near their fortress at Dowa Yalanne and prepared to defend their people and way of life against the Spanish army. Don Diego de Vargas arrived in 1692 and was allowed to ascend to the top of Dowa Yalanne. He found many relics from the destroyed missions there and was able to arrange a peace between the Spanish and the tribe. Between 1693 and 1700 the tribe consolidated all their small villages into what is now the Pueblo of Zuni.

The railroads arrived in New Mexico in the 1880's and right behind them came the first Anglo traders. Over the next 50 years Zuni pottery turned more and more to what the traders wanted. With the push into mass production, the quality fell off. The end result was the value of Zuni pottery fell way off and the potters tired of what they were doing. Pottery making dropped off in the 1940's until only ceremonial vessels were being made. The Zuni pottery revival began after Daisy Hooee began teaching pottery making at Zuni High School in the 1960's and 1970's. Josephine Nahohai brought traditional Zuni pottery designs back into the community in the 1980's and Jennie Laate continued teaching pottery making at Zuni High School. Many of today's well known Zuni potters thank Jennie Laate for her teaching and inspiration. In the 1990's Noreen Simplicio taught pottery making at Zuni High School and for several years in a row, she had more than 100 students in her class.

Today, because so many Zuni potters learned their craft at Zuni High School, they mostly also use electric kilns for firing their works. Other than that, they all use the same traditional methods of gathering and processing the clay, making their pottery and painting their designs, traditional processes that are practiced in virtually the same way in all the pueblos.

Zuni Pueblo location map


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The Story of
the Wedding Vase

as told by Teresita Naranjo of Santa Clara Pueblo


The Wedding Vase has been used for a long, long time in Indian Wedding Ceremonies.

After a period of courtship, when a boy and girl decide to get married, they cannot do so until certain customs have been observed. The boy must first call all his relatives together to tell them that he desires to be married to a certain girl. If the relatives agree, two or three of the oldest men are chosen to call on the parents of the girl. They pray according to Indian custom and the oldest man will tell the parents of the girl what their purpose is in visiting. The girl’s parents never give a definite answer at this time, but just say that they will let the boy’s family know their decision later.

About a week later, the girl calls a meeting of her relatives. The family then decides what answer should be given. If the answer is “no” that is the end of it. If the answer is “yes” then the oldest men in her family are delegated to go to the boy’s home, and to give the answer, and to tell the boy on what day he can come to receive his bride-to-be. The boy must also notify all of his relatives on what day the girl will receive him, so that they will be able to have gifts for the girl.

Now the boy must find a Godmother and Godfather. The Godmother immediately starts making the wedding vase so that it will be finished by the time the girl is to be received. The Godmother also takes some of the stones which have been designated as holy and dips them into water, to make it holy water. It is with this holy water that the vase is filled on the day of the reception.

The reception day finally comes and the Godmother and Godfather lead the procession of the boy’s relatives to the home of the girl. The groom is the last in line and must stand at the door of the bride’s home until the gifts his relatives have brought have been opened and received by the bride.

The bride and groom now kneel in the middle of the room with the groom’s relatives and the bride’s parents praying all around them. The bride then gives her squash blossom necklace to the groom’s oldest male relative, while the groom gives his necklace to the bride’s oldest male relative. After each man has prayed, the groom’s necklace is placed on the bride, and the bride’s is likewise placed on the groom.

After the exchange of squash blossom necklaces and prayers, the Godmother places the wedding vase in front of the bride and groom. The bride drinks out of one side of the wedding vase and the groom drinks from the other. Then, the vase is passed to all in the room, with the women all drinking from the bride’s side, and the men from the groom’s.

After the ritual drinking of the holy water and the prayers, the bride’s family feeds all the groom’s relatives and a date is set for the church wedding. The wedding vase is now put aside until after the church wedding.

Once the church wedding ceremony has occurred, the wedding vase is filled with any drink the family may wish. Once again, all the family drinks in the traditional manner, with women drinking from one side, and men the other. Having served its ceremonial purpose, the wedding vase is given to the young newlyweds as a good luck piece.

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Pottery Care & Consideration

  • The most obvious tip: Yes, the pots will break if you drop them!
  • Do not expose pottery to water (Inside or outside). Do not wipe with a damp cloth.
  • Dust pottery only with a soft, smooth cloth (no terry cloth or textured fabric). A very soft paintbrush (sable or camel) can be used.
  • Always use two hands to carry your pot: one on top and one on the bottom, or one hand on each side. Be careful with handles, they can be fragile. Do not grip or lift pots by the rim. Take care when wearing jewelry, rings can scratch the finish.
  • Place a piece of felt or cloth between the pot and the shelf to protect the signature.
  • Avoid exposing pottery to extreme temperature changes.

For those who live in "earthquake country" (also good for mischievous pets):

  • Weigh pots down with a small zip lock bag containing sand, glass marbles, rice, etc. Do not fill the pot more than one third full as you want them bottom heavy. Remember to remove the weight before moving.
  • Secure your shelves; make sure they are well attached to the walls. Shelf brackets should be of sufficient length and strength to support the weight of your pottery.
  • Prevent pots from sliding. Consider attaching a small wooden molding to the front of shelves. Line shelves with non-slip material (a thin sheet of rubber foam, Styrofoam sheeting, etc.)
  • If you need assistance with special problems, major cleaning (your grandchild spills ice cream on your pot), restoration or repair (the cat breaks a pot), or replacement (irreparable damage), please feel free to call us.

We hope these ideas help you maintain the beauty and value of your pottery for years of enjoyment.

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