Pueblo Pottery Introduction
Pueblo is a Spanish word that means both people and town. The early Spanish explorers called these people "pueblos" because they lived in permanent towns and villages, and thus were distinct from other Southwest groups, such as the Navajo, Apache, and Piman speakers, who did not. Although the different pueblo people lived very similar ways of life, they were linguistically diverse, speaking perhaps a dozen different languages and/or dialects. Today there are eighteen distinct Pueblo groups, all of which are in New Mexico, except the Hopi and the Hopi-Tewa of Arizona.
Pueblo pottery has been made for sale and collected by both tourists and serious art collectors since the late 19th century. Stylistic differences -- in color, design motifs, and vessel shapes -- and technological variations distinguish one Pueblo's pottery from another. Pueblo cultures are generally conservative, with a world view that stresses balance and harmony of humans with the universe. There is an emphasis on doing things in moderation and in following tradition, and this is refelected in the maintenance of a village pottery style or technique over a long period of time. Although many Pueblo potters today experiment outside the bounds of tradition and have developed new and interesting ceramic forms, many also continue to make the traditional types favored in their particular community. This exhibit focuses on a few of the pueblos and their identifiable pottery styles.