Zuni symbols carry deep meaning and history for the tribe. Here’s an explanation of some of the most important Zuni symbols you may see used in jewelry, and their meanings.
Arrows were a hugely important tool for the Zuni because they used them to hunt the animals they needed for food, garments and additional tools. The meaning of an arrow symbol in Zuni culture depends on how it’s portrayed. One arrow alone is a symbol of defense and protection. Two crossed arrows, on the other hand, represent friendship and two arrows pointing in opposite directions represent war. Finally, a broken arrow is a symbol of peace for the Zuni.
Very closely related to the Zuni arrow symbol is the arrowhead symbol, though it does have a slightly different meaning. The Zuni tribe uses an arrowhead symbol to represent alertness. These arrowhead earrings with turquoise are an example of this symbol.
For the Zuni tribe, a bear symbol is meant to symbolize several important characteristics like leadership, courage, protection and strength. This is right in line with the natural strength and speed that bears possess. The Zuni believe that wearing a bear necklace provides the wearer protection and good health. This bear design pendant is one example.
The cactus plant thrives in arid regions in America so it’s no surprise that tribes like the Zuni use the plant as a symbol. In Zuni culture, a cactus symbol represents the desert but a cactus plant symbol with a flower represents endurance and warmth.
Corn was another plant that held great importance for the Zuni tribe and other Native American tribes. Used as a symbol, corn represents a spiritual offering or even a deity.
Snakes are a common symbol in Native American symbolism, but they mean something slightly different to each tribe. For the Zuni tribe, a snake is a symbol of rebirth and healing. In some cases, snakes can also represent fertility.
Spiders And Spider Webs
Spiders are a powerful symbol in Zuni culture. It’s a common belief that wearing a spider symbol makes a warrior invincible to arrows since arrows can go through a spider’s webs without destroying them. Thus, a spider web or a spider represents invincibility and sometimes invisibility, too.
The sun is a very important symbol for many Native American tribes and the Zuni tribe is no exception. In Zuni culture, a sun symbol represents life and vitality. The rays of light coming out of the sun symbolize the four cardinal directions — North, South, East and West.
The wolf symbol is somewhat contradictory since the Zuni tribe uses wolves as a symbol of destruction as well as protection. Wolves are believed to offer guidance through dreams and meditation so wearing jewelry with Zuni wolf symbols may provide some direction for the wearer.
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