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Hopi Indians And Their Pottery Essay, Research Paper

Hopi Indians lived in the western part of America (Arizona). Their civilization is about 3000 years old and they usually farmed for living. The Hopi reservation is a remote area, comprising approximately 650,000 acres, and is surrounded on all sides by the Navajo Reservation. The Hopi people have lived in this area for over a thousand years, with one of its native villages on Old Oraibi, having the distinction of being the oldest continuously inhabited village in the United States.

Hopi brought a lot of influences to many people. Hopi people were famous for their pots they make. Hopi pottery is assumed to have been made by women, there are few early historic references to men making pottery. Pottery varied from village to village so all the neighboring villages showed different blending of style. Hopi pottery are made very similar today as the olden days just that now days, it is much expensive. Modern Hopi potters make their pottery in the traditional manner. The clay is hand dug on the Hopi mesas and hand processed. The pots are carefully hand constructed using the coil and scrape techniques their ancestors taught them. The paints used are from naturally occurring materials. For example, boiling Beeweed for a long time until it becomes very dark and thick makes black paint.

Before making a pottery, they found clay near the ocean or by inland streams and pond. They would wedge the clay to help remove air bubbles from the clay. If air is not removed from the clay pottery may break or crack when dried and fired. They tasted the clay to choose which clay is better. They picked sweet clay because it would be smoother than the bitter clay. After choosing which clay they were going to use, they started to make the pot, known as the coil pot method. They would roll a piece of clay into a thin line. After, they would add the thin line and built it up step by step placing the rolled up clay on top of each other.

The inside of the pinch pot was smothered and joined. They would use a shell or a broken pot to smooth the pot and to make it in shape to compress cracks and to smooth the pot for decoration. They would also put white powder on it and rub it with sandstone to smoothen it. At the end, they would fire the pot. Before firing, they warmed the pot and also dry it. After drying slowly for several days, they pottery would be ready to be baked in a fire. They used sheep dong and broken pots to put on top of the made pots. The pots would stand on rocks and sheep dong (pots would be up side down). The temperature would rise 1500 degrees or more and they would avoid any rapid temperature changes.

Decorations were also important for the Hopi potteries. They would draw the decoration with a yacca (a brush-chewed on the end). The colorings were made up of tanzy and compounds. The designs and symbols vary from one artist to the other. Designs were usually animals and shape. The symbols on the pots came from mythological and religious ideas, especially of the psychological elements of sympathetic magic. Symbols were also often used to influence supernatural beings, which often explains artistic motifs. The pots there designed and buried, containing food and other materials. This showed us that the Hopis thought about their after life.

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