Sunday, February 21, 2016

Travel Trinket: Navajo Pottery

I enjoy collecting pottery and in our travels I pick up pieces that appeal to me.  I am especially fond of native people groups traditional pottery.

In 2004 we did an five week road trip through the US Southwest.  One of our stops was in Monument Valley.  Most people don't realize that Monument Valley is NOT a National Park.  It is a Navajo Tribal Park.  At the visitor center the gift shop features authentic Navajo art and sometimes the artist are there to talk to visitors!

When I saw this wedding vase, I knew it was coming home with me.

"The Wedding Vase is an ancient vessel still used in traditional Native American wedding ceremonies. One spout of the vessel represents the husband; the other, the wife. The looped handle represents the unity achieved with marriage. The space created within the loop represents the couples’ own circle of life.

The wedding vase is a treasured and sacred tradition among many Native American Indian tribes, particularly the Navajo and Pueblo peoples. These vases are not only symbolic in the ceremony performed just prior to the wedding itself, but also in the shape and construction of the vessel.

About a week or two before a couple is officially married, the groom’s parents build the wedding vase from clay found in a local river bed and ceremonially cleaned and filtered. Once the vessel has been properly fired, both families assemble. The parents give the young couple advice, and the wedding vase is filled with a special liquid. Traditionally it would be a nectar made by the medicine man, though many modern couples may choose to drink water or an herbal infused tea from the vase to represent the blending of their lives.

First the groom offers his bride the vessel and she drinks from one spout. She then turns the wedding vase clockwise, and the groom then drinks from this same side. Each will then drink from the opposite side of the wedding vase, and then finally in the culmination of the ceremony, they will both drink from the wedding vase together. It is said that if they manage this feat without spilling a drop they will always have a strong, cooperative relationship. The vase then becomes a cherished piece in their household and great care is taken to make sure it is never damaged."

"The vessel itself is quite beautiful, and its design is an integral part of its meaning. The two spouts represent the couple; one the bride, the other the groom. The rounded base and shared reservoir of the vase represent the couple’s now-shared lives. The looped handle also represents this unity in a more visible and apparent way, much like a wedding band is a visible reminder of the deeper, spiritual connection shared by a husband and wife. The handle creates a circle in the center of the vase that represents the circle of life."

The painting on the side is of the iconic "Mittens" in Monument Valley.

Signed and noted as Navajo.  Dine is their name for themselves.

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1 comment:

  1. Wow that is so interesting and beautiful! It is so nice to know the cultural background of something like that and often it is the story about it that makes you want to have it!


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