Clay to Silver: Southwest Indian Seed Pots
Historically, the world has valued containers as both utilitarian and sacred objects. The Southwest Indians stored their life giving seeds over the winter in clay pots, and the pots had a small hole to keep the seeds safe from vermin. The seeds came from their three sacred plants: corn, squash, and beans. At the beginning of the planting season they would need to shatter the clay pot to retrieve the life giving seeds.
The evolution from ancient clay seed pottery to the contemporary seed pot occurred approximately in the mid-1970s. Navajo silversmith, Norbert Peshlakai, and Commanche/Mexican artist White Buffalo are attributed as the first makers of the sterling silver seed pot. Both Norbert Peshlakai and White Buffalo are master jewelers who are always striving for new artistic and technical skills, they both initially began by forming the rigid silver into Pueblo pottery shapes.
Southwest silversmiths are influenced by their history, culture, environment and personal vision and skill levels. For them, the seed pots have become a venue to display and show off their extraordinary talents, and push themselves to higher artistic heights.
Citation:Loscher, Tricia. (2007). Old Traditions in New Pots: Silver Seed Pots from the Norman L. Sandfield Collection. Phoenix, AZ: Heard Museum.