In 1680, the Native people who lived in the territory that the Spanish claimed as the province of Santa Fe de Nuevo México rose up to overthrow the Spanish colonizers. In the uprising that became known as the Pueblo Revolt, the united tribes of the Northern Tiwa, Tewa, Towa, Tano, Keres, Pecos, Zuni, and Hopi killed 400 Spanish colonials and drove the remaining 2,000 out of the area. The revolt was so successful that it took the Spanish government over a decade to regroup and reclaim the territory.
The Pueblo Revolt was not just an armed uprising. Participating tribes also experienced a cultural revolution in which they rejected Spanish influences and returned to pre-European contact traditions. This can be seen in the pottery created by Zuni women during and after the revolt. The first pot pictured above was made while the fighting was occurring. The designs look hurried, misshapen, and simplistic, which speaks to the anxiety and anguish that Pueblo women experienced during the revolt. But the symbols on the pot are traditional; the artist left out the crosses and other Catholic insignia that Spanish overseers demanded from Zuni craftswomen. Thus, despite its imperfections, this pot represents the return to traditional practices that characterized the cultural side of the Pueblo Revolt.
The second water jug was made after the Pueblo Revolt and tells the story of a healing community. It has an asymmetrical design and is covered in clean, crisp lines, which indicates that the artist had time and comfort in which she could perfect her work. The red, black, and brown pigments used to construct the pot took time and effort to produce, another indication that this jug was made in an era of peace and stability. And the patterns on the pot incorporate even more traditional Zuni designs and symbols, like the brown and black feather motif, which show that Zuni artists continued to explore and honor their cultural traditions even after the initial crisis of the revolt was over.