Annotated Bibliography: Zuni Rock-Art
Kenny Acord, December 16, 2002
1990 Legacy On Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and
Cole focuses on Zuni and Hopi iconography and symbolism when discussing the
rock-art that is found along the
Cole further hypothesizes that sites associated with religious significance were repeatedly visited to renew past symbolism. A “renewal” was often achieved through the addition of rock-art and modifying existing rock-art. An example of this can be inferred from a Zuni fertility ritual that takes place at a shrine called “Mother Rock.” “Zuni women and men wishing to have a female child visit a shrine called “Mother Rock” where pregnant women remove grains of sandstone for an offering to be left at the site. An illustration of Mother Rock shows a surface that is densely pockmarked with abstract imagery, including small pits, larger holes or niches, and grooves. Vulvalike symbols have been formed by using pits and incised lines (Cole 1990:41).”
Cunkle, J.R. and M.A. Jacquemain
1995 Stone Magic of the Ancients: Petrogylphs, Shamanic Shrine Sites, and Ancient
Rituals. Golden West Publishers,
Cunkle and Jacquemanin examine the symbolic elements and ritual aspects of
rock-art concentrated in the Upper
The Zuni people figure prominently into the rock-art of the
1967 Rock Art of the American Indian. Thomas Y. Crowell
A general overview of American Indian rock-art in the
Grant describes the historical importance of Inscription Rock at El Morro National Monument where Spanish explorers and early settlers left signatures alongside the rock-art of Zuni ancestors, the Anasazi. The site contains the ruins of two Zuni villages, thus providing an important link to contemporary Zuni culture.
Muench, D. and P. Schaafsma
1995 Images in Stone. Brown Trout Publishers, Inc.,
Schaafsma provides a general background on the people that created the rock-art to accompany the incredible photographs by David Muench. Although few Zuni perspectives are provided for the rock-art included in the book, it does offer some of the best photographs published of contemporary Zuni katchina pictographs. One panel of contemporary Zuni paintings of kachina masks contains prehistoric petroglyphs pecked approximately 800 years ago. Schaafsma states that the “… the contemporary Zunis view these (the prehistoric petroglyphs) as an important part of their mythic past. They say that stick figures and lizard-like men depict man at the ‘time of the beginning’ before he was ‘finished’ or completely human. Spirals are sometimes considered to be spiritual ‘maps’ representing the ‘journey to the center’ or to Zuni itself (Muench and Schaafsma 1995:90).” Another panel of historic petroglyphs contains “a group of ceremonial participants that possibly represent the Mudhead Clowns (Muench and Schaafsma 1995:92).”
Eggan, F. and T.N. Pandey
1979 Zuni History, 1850-1970. In Southwest, edited by Alfonso Ortiz, pp.474-481. Handbook of North American Indians, Vol.11, W.C. Sturtevant, general editor, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
The Mexican Revolt of 1821 successfully ended Spanish control of
Numerous survey parties and expeditions visited Zuni during 1850s, 1860s, and 1870s. Ethnographers like Frank H. Cushing and Matilda Stevenson who were associated with the Bureau of Ethnology lived with the Zuni and made important contributions to the knowledge of Zuni. The late 1800s was characterized by diminishing warfare and marked a gradual change in traditional Zuni leadership. In 1834 the Zunis accepted the provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act and a formal tribal council was elected.
The last half of the 20th century witnessed the expansion and growing importance of the tribal council. This period saw the tribal council develop community services that included new housing, water systems, sew disposal, electricity, and new roads. “In the 1970s there was a considerable expansion of federal grants and projects, which enabled the tribal council to expand the employment of Zunis on the reservation (Eggan and Pandey 1979:479).” The Zunis have adapted to the pressures of western life, yet their ceremonial system and worldview have remained intact and vibrant.
1972 Rock Art in
The results of an extensive six month survey on
“The remaining rock art in this area of the Little Colorado River drainage consists of Rio Grande Style and modern depictions of katchinas and other figures, both ceremonial and secular, attributable to the late prehistoric and modern Zuni (Schaafsma 1972: 25).”
1980 Indian Rock Art of the Southwest.
A comprehensive look at the rock-art of the American Southwest that defines the various rock-art styles and interprets the possible functions in regards to contemporary Native American cultures. The Zuni perspective on rock-art is given due attention throughout the book.
Schaafsma first addresses the Zuni during her examination of possible meanings
for the representations of ducks found in Southwestern rock-art from Basketmaker
III to early Pueblo II. According to Schaafsma the duck is a figure widely
associated with shamanism that has a long history of ritual significance in
the Southwest. “In the
Because the upper and middle Little Colorado River drainage continued to
be inhabited by the Hopi and Zuni after the Pueblo III period in the Anasazi
developmental sequence, Schaafsma notes that the rock-art in the region exhibits
continuity from the Anasazi tradition (Basketmaker II –Pueblo III) into the
Rio Grande Style that appeared in the early 1300s. In general, the Rio Grande
Style consist of petroglyphs that are “…characterized by ceremonial figures
and prolific depictions of masks (Schaafsma 1980:254).” The masks depicted
in rock-art at Zuni, Hopi, and the
The influence of Western art on traditional subjects, like masks, is next examined. This is often seen in attempts to indicate three dimensions. Schaafsma describes this influence in a number of painted masks that are found near Zuni. “In these the use of three-quarter views, frontal perspective and foreshortening, and shading contributes to the illusion of three-dimensional form (Schaafsma 1980:293).”
Schaafsma explores possible interpretations for rock-art found in the Zuni
region by examining religious and medicine societies found at Zuni. Katchinas,
clowns, arrow swallowers, and bow priests are some of the icons thought to
be represented in rock-art of the area. Schaafsma also briefly explores the
possible symbolic connection between
Slifer, Dennis and James Duffield
1994 Kokopelli: Flute Player Images in Rock Art.
Slifer and Duffield incorporate Native American myths and stories to present a comprehensive examination concerning Kokopelli, the humpbacked fluteplayer of the American Southwest. The book includes a Zuni perspective on the origins and the symbolic role of Kokopelli. The authors state that rock-art continues today at Zuni and that the Zuni people believe Kokopelli rock-art symbols assist in bringing moisture to the area.
Welsh, E.C. and P.Welsh
2000 Rock-Art of the Southwest: A Visitor’s Companion. Wilderness Press, Berkeley.
This book offers a clear and concise overview of Southwestern rock-art that
includes a couple of brief, but significant Zuni perspectives regarding rock-art.
The authors note that certain rock-art has often been perceived as a reference
to stories or myths. “In
1979 Zuni Prehistory and History to 1850. In Southwest, edited by Alfonso Ortiz, pp. 467-473. Hanbook of North American Indians, Vol. 9, W.C. Sturtevant, general editor, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Woodbury provides a general introduction and summary of Zuni prehistory and
history to 1850. The present town of
Zuni contact with Europeans began approximately in 1540 when Francisco Vasquez
de Coronado was searching for the fabled “Seven Cities of
Archaeologist, Frank H.H. Roberts, excavated three sites (Kiatuthlanna:
Young, Mary Jane
1982 Images of Power, Images of Beauty: Contemporary Zuni Perceptions of Rock
Art. Ph.D. dissertation,
This dissertation is the foremost scholarly research concerning rock-art
found in the Zuni region of
Specifically, Young is interested in contemporary Zuni interpretations of rock-art. Her findings suggest a great diversity of interpretations for rock-art by contemporary Zuni people. “It is of interest that known or identified images were frequently grouped and labeled by content, while unknowns were grouped by form. Many of the recent images were described as ‘as beautiful designs’, whereas, certain of the ambiguous, older images were regarded, especially by the elderly Zunis, as power-invoking ‘signs from the past’. These images sometimes called forth Zuni myths and folktales of the ‘time of the beginning’ when animals and people did not look or act the way they do now (Young 1982:3).”
Young’s research indicates that contemporary production of rock-art is predominantly a male activity, although designs used on pottery by women and fetish carving are similar to ones that appear in rock-art (Young 1982:95). Zuni informants often identified rock-art images with images that appear in other media like pottery and fetishes. “For example, the mountain lion is often depicted in other visual forms with its tail bent back over its body, so informants tended to identify quadrupeds with their tails bent back in that manner as mountain lions (Young 1982 107).” Anthropomorphic images were also often identified by particular elements as well. “Katchinas or dancers in general tended to be identified by the dance kilts they wore and/or feathers on their heads, while the identification of ‘Zunis at the time of the beginning’ were often based on the existence of webbed hands and feet and, usually, tails (Young 1982:107).”
1988 Signs From the Ancestors: Zuni Cultural Symbolism and Perceptions
of Rock Art.
This book is based on Young’s dissertation research and contains much of same information provided in the dissertation, albeit in a much more readable format and style.
The introductory chapter provides a brief introduction to Zuni rock-art and how the Zuni perceptions and interpretations about rock-art reveal their cosmology and worldview.
Chapter one provides an ethnographic perspective on the Zuni People. Zuni
perspectives are addressed from the environment and landscape to their current
socio-cultural setting. Along the way Young provides a brief background on
Zuni archaeological data and historic contacts with the Spanish, Mexicans,
Chapter two serves to give the reader a background on rock-art found in the Zuni region. Techniques and terminology, image size and placement, and description and chronology are discussed. Excellent photographs and drawings accompany the text throughout this chapter. Young concludes the chapter with a section on the contemporary Zuni perceptions of rock-art. This part of the chapter is in large part the card experiment that Young conducted during her dissertation research. The basis of the experiment was to show a diverse group of Zuni people sets of cards that contained rock-art images and then document their responses to the images.
Chapter three focuses on Zuni Cosmology and Cultural Symbolism. The Zuni perception of direction, verbal art, and perceptions of space and time comprise this chapter.
Chapter four discusses Zuni cultural images found in contemporary forms of art that include wall murals, ceramics, and fetishes. The chapter addresses the cultural symbolism found in Zuni myth and how it may be represented in the rock-art of the area.
Chapter five explores why rock-art is produced and the function of particular rock-art at Zuni in the present or recent past. Contemporary Zuni perceptions of rock-art focus on the power of images because of their ability to evoke myth or their association with a particular aspect of the physical world. Zuni people often view prehistoric rock-art as messages from their ancestors.
Chapter six focuses on contemporary rock-art and interpretations. Often contemporary rock-art includes masks and figures that represent katchinas, which indicates that some rock-art has religious significance. “Zuni commentary suggests that many of the newer images owe their existence to aesthetic rather than strictly religious motivations. Thus, Zunis do not regard all pictographs and petroglyphs surrounding the pueblo as powerful: they classify some as destructive graffiti, others as non-Zuni, and still others as beautiful but not necessarily efficacious (Young 1988:195-196).” Interviews conducted by Young seem to indicate that graffiti is often ignored except when it associated with or superimposed on older sites or sacred places.
Chapter seven concludes the book with a brief overview of the material presented in the six previous chapters and a few concluding thoughts.
1995 The Zuni-Cibola Area. In Canyon Country: Prehistoric Rock Art,
by F.A. Barnes, pp. 284-289. Wasatch Publishers,
Zuni rock-art scholar, M. Jane Young, establishes links between
Young briefly describes the artistic and ceremonial complex that originated with Jornada Mogollon to the south and spread west to Zuni and Hopi during the early fourteenth century. “This new artistic tradition brought with it increasingly representational human and animal forms, as well as kachina figures, masks, and shields. In contrast to the deeply pecked images of earlier periods, the predominant techniques of this time period are incising, abrading and drilling, with the retention of some lighter pecking (Young 1995:284).”
Young has spent extensive time conducting research with the Zuni and states that “the Pueblo of Zuni has encouraged the recording, preservation and study of this rock art, for it forms an important part of the Zuni cultural heritage (Young 1995:284).” A number of photos accompany the text and provide excellent visual examples regarding the rock-art discussed in the essay.