Shapes and Forms: Wedding Vases

Circa 1920 Acoma wedding vase by an unknown potter
Wedding vase
by an unknown Acoma potter
circa 1920

10.25 in H by 12 in Dia
Sgraffito geometric design on a red wedding vase
Red wedding vase with sgraffito geometric design, by Wilma Baca Tosa, Jemez
10.5 in H by 4.75 in Dia
Geometric design carved into a red wedding vase
Red wedding vase carved with a geometric design, by LuAnn Tafoya, Santa Clara
13.25 in H by 6 in W by 9.75 in L
Sgraffito double avanyu and geometric design on a black wedding vase
Black wedding vase with sienna spots and sgraffito double avanyu and geometric design, by
Sammy Naranjo, Santa Clara
9.5 in H by 4 in Dia

Pueblo Indians have been using the Wedding Vase in their marriage traditions for hundreds of years. In most cases it gets used twice: once at the time of acceptance of engagement and again at the time of actual marriage.

At the time of the acceptance of engagement, the vase is filled with holy water. Then the male representatives drink from the spout the groom drinks from and the female representatives drink from the spout of the bride. That's a symbolic affirming of the relationships between the members of each sex of each family. This happens again during the actual wedding ceremony.

When the marriage ceremony is complete, the vase is given to the newlyweds as a symbol of good fortune and might never be used again.

These days, potters at several pueblos, among the Hopis and at Mata Ortiz make wedding vases. The decorations applied to some of them can be really elaborate. There are also Navajo wedding vases just crawling with horned toads and others with Navajo yard scenes decorating them. I've even seen a couple from Silas Claw with three spouts.

Bird element designs on a yellowware wedding vase
Yellow ware wedding vase with red and black bird element design, by Rachel Sahmie, Hopi-Tewa
10.75 in H by 6 in Dia
Sgraffito medallions on the body of a black wedding vase
Black wedding vase with sgraffito hummingbird and butterfly medallions, by Candelaria Suazo, Santa Clara
7 in H by 7 in Dia
Avanyu design carved into a black wedding vase with a twisted handle
A twisted handle on a black wedding vase with a carved avanyu design, by Mary Singer, Santa Clara
10.5 in H by 7 in Dia
Quadrillos design on a polychrome wedding vase
Polychrome wedding vase decorated with a quadrillos design, by Olga Quezada, Mata Ortiz
6.5 in H by 6.25 in Dia
Horned toads, fire clouds and pine pitch on a brown wedding vase
Brown wedding vase decorated with horned toads, fire clouds and pine pitch, by Betty Manygoats, Dineh
10.5 in H by 6.5 in Dia
Buff wedding vase with a melon-shaped base
A melon-shaped base on a buff wedding vase, by Juanita Fragua, Jemez
10.75 in H by 6.75 in Dia
Hummingbird, rainbow, flower, rain clouds and geometric design on a polychrome jar
Polychrome jar decorated with a hummingbird, rain cloud, rainbow, flower and geometric design, by Ruby Panana, Zia Pueblo
10 in H by 7.5 in Dia
A band of feathers design on a black-on-black wedding vase
Black-on-black wedding vase with a band of feathers design, by Maria Martinez, San Ildefonso
9.5 in H by 7.75 in Dia
Signed: Maria/Popovi

Shapes and Forms