Zuni (pronounced “Zoo-nee”) Pueblo is the most remote pueblo in New Mexico. It is located somewhat near to Acoma and Laguna Pueblos, but quite a distance from the Rio Grande pueblos. In addition to its isolation on the western edge of the state, Zuni residents also speak a language different from all the other pueblos. Located thirty-four miles south of Gallup, Zuni was originally thought to be one of the “Seven Cities of Gold” by the Spanish. While visitors may not find gold, they will find exquisite silver and turquoise jewelry, unique stone-carved fetishes, and amazing pottery. Zuni is currently the most populous pueblo.
A Zuni legend tells the story of the parrot and the crow, each of whom presents an egg to the Zuni women who must decide which one they will keep. The women choose the egg of the crow because of its wonderful turquoise color. The Zuni love of color is reflected everywhere in their daily lives, as well as in their ceremonies.
Especially noticeable is the quality of the widely acclaimed jewelry they produce, fashioned of turquoise, shell and jet set in silver in intricate mosaic or inlay patterns. The mosaic is made by laying one stone next to another with no silver in between, while the inlaid or channel work surrounds the individual stone with silver.
They are also known for fine beadwork, making belts and necklaces and even figures of beads. Zuni artisans carve exquisite animal fetishes from translucent shell.
While comparatively little pottery is made by Zuni craftsmen, they have a tradition of beautiful work in clay and still use their work in ceremonies.