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Navajo Horse Hair Pottery

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By Deborah J. Wenner

Horse Hair pottery is one of the most popular artworks from the southwest today. This beautiful pottery comes from the Navajo Indian region which is the largest reservation in the United States. The talent that these artisans bring to the work they do today has been handed down through generations of members of their family and tribe. This includes not only pottery but jewelry, rugs, blankets, sand art and much more. Each piece can tell a story or simply
be a creation of or from spirit. Many designs come from dreams of the elders. In ancient times, this pottery was created to remember a favorite horse that may have been passed on from old age, or possibly died in battle. 

The folklore story of Horse Hair pottery has been told that a Pueblo woman was removing hot pottery from the kiln and her long hair flowed over the pot. This created a design as the hair burned an imprint into the pottery creating a one of a kind design. Today the work in this area has grown in talent by using other items such as feathers, beads, and
turquoise to their work. 

Today, some of the most vibrant pottery comes from the four corners region of the Navajo Nation and the Pueblos of New Mexico. It has also become popular with other tribes such as Hopi and non-Native makers as well. Just be aware if you are buying pottery that if it is Native American made, it should be so marked on the bottom of the piece. This will ensure that you have an authentic piece for your collection. 

This beautiful pottery is a creamy tan to brownish with light to dark flowing strands of horse hair. The artists have also included etchings of animals they regard to be inspirational to their culture. These designs can include the eagle, bear, wolf, horse, turtle, buffalo, butterfly and the Hummingbird. These animals all have a special meaning and spiritual energy they offer to the pottery. Some of the newer creations even have lovely rainbows of color added to them. 

You can view a selection of this pottery at Country Arts and Jewelry, in Heritage Marketplace, 15864 Nauvoo Rd., Middlefield (44062). 440-632-5343; caj123@simcon.net; www.countryartsandjewelry.com. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Sunday and Tuesday. 

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