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Symbolism in Pueblo Pottery

Known for its exceptional beauty, Pueblo pottery is the most celebrated art form of the Pueblo peoples of New Mexico. Craftspeople today continue to use pottery techniques developed centuries ago and paint their pots with designs that have been passed down through generations.

To create a bus wrap celebrating and honoring Pueblo pottery, Visit Albuquerque worked with Michael Lucero (San Felipe Pueblo). In addition to being a potter, painter and jeweler, Michael formerly served as the Director of Guest Experience at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. The center is dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of Pueblo culture, history and art.

Pottery ABQ Ride Bus

New Mexico is home to 19 Native American pueblos, each with its own artistic styles and traditions. However, some designs and patterns are found in artwork across the pueblos and have near-universal meaning. The meaning of some of the symbols depicted on this bus wrap include:

  • Thick dashed lines of alternating black and white symbolize infinity or a continuing legacy.
  • Areas of thin diagonal stripes represent rain or sunbeams, both of which support life and growth and symbolize new beginnings.
  • Depictions of flowers, leaves and other plant life represent a connection to the earth and depict how the cycle of life repeats itself through seasons and through generations.
  • Arcs represent blessings. The arc protects and strengthens whatever is depicted underneath it, and anything underneath an arc is precious. An arc also can be interpreted as a rainbow, which brings the blessing of rain.
  • Steps and triangles represent growth and upward movement and show the importance of reaching for higher values that are built on a strong base or foundation.
  • Pairs of circles that are mirror images of each other can represent the sun and moon, man and woman, or other types of pairings that need to be in balance.

When combined, the individual symbols on a piece of Pueblo pottery work together to tell a story. Interpretations can differ from one storyteller to another. For the design on the bus, Michael Lucero offers one interpretation: “The entire piece represents how people are connected to the earth, to the heavens and to one another as we move along on our journey through time, growing in knowledge and wisdom.” Others are free to bring their own interpretation to this beautiful work that honors Pueblo culture and traditions.

The City of Albuquerque and Visit Albuquerque wrapped ABQ Ride buses with three authentically Albuquerque designs. To read more, click here.