Zia Pueblo – Zia Sun Symbol – New Mexico State Flag Borrows Symbol

The Zia Pueblo north of Albuquerque, New Mexico is part of the larger Pueblo community of southwest Native Americans. The Zia Pueblo has been occupied continuously since 1250 AD. The Zias are noted for their pottery and their use of the sacred sun symbol.

Traditionally a circle with rays pointing in the four directions, the Zia symbol is painted on pottery and drawn in the ground for various ceremonial purposes.


Four is sacred to the Zia and represents a variety of natural forces:

The four directions

The four seasons

The four phases of the day – sunrise, noon, evening and midnight

The four phases of life – childhood, youth, adulthood and old age

The four sacred obligations – to develop a strong body, a clear mind, a pure spirit and a devotion to the well being of ones people.

The Zia Pueblo has its own flag


The Zia symbol is also used on the New Mexico state flag, highway markers, and as design elements in state buildings. You might have seen the symbol as a design on a tee shirt or a coffee cup or a pendant and thought “Oh, yeah, the state symbol of New Mexico”. Well, I’m not sure New Mexico ever got permission to use the ancient Zia Pueblo symbol, but that’s another story. I do want you to know that the symbol originated long before there was a state of New Mexico and its flag.

newmexicoflagpicture1You’ll also see the Zia symbol used by southwest Native American artists in all types of jewelry, with and without a sunface at the center. Here is a key ring with an inlaid Zia sunface symbol.


Native American Hopi Overlay Symbols – Thanksgiving

Many Hopi symbols relate to nature. They depict plants, animals, feathers, land and rock formations, and weather…….including whirlwinds and especially clouds and rain which are so precious to the southwest cultures.

In addition, many Hopi designs are abstract. The beautiful Hopi necklace below shows a mixture of discernible symbols and abstract designs. What do you see? I’ll suggest what I see below.

Hopi Overlay Necklace

In the center of the above necklace is a large sunface which is a symbol of warmth and growth. When a sunface looks mask-like such as the one in this necklace, it is a sunface kachina – see the sunface kachina (shown below).

The head and headress of a Hopi Sunface Kachina

The next recognizable symbols on the two discs above the sunface are a corn plant in the middle, a hogan on the top, and a turkey across from one side to the other with his head on one side and his spread out fan tail on the other.

Turkey, also called Earth Eagle, is an important food source to the Pueblos and is mentioned in several Tewa Pueblo stories. Its feathers have many ritual uses. There is a Turkey Clan in one of the Hopi Phratries.

From Ancestral Art: In addition to hunting wild game, the Hopi raised domesticated turkeys. Given the number of turkey remains discovered, they must have been a food staple.

Turkey remains were found at Kokopnyama, an old Hopi ruin. Read more about the excavations here.

There are eleven bird kachinas for the chicken, duck, eagle, hummingbird, kit, mockingbird, owl, red-tailed hawk, roadrunner, snipe, and turkey. The turkey kachina uses turkey feathers to form a fan-shaped crest representing the spread tail of the male turkey.

In the six medallions above the turkey medallions, I think all or most are either landscape formations, stylized weather or abstract art. What do you think?

I’ve done some research on this piece found one like it on page 19 of “Indian Jewelry on the Market” Peter N. Schiffer, 1996 that says “A magnificent Hopi necklace with nine medallions. Klines Gallery $1200


The sterling silver medallions are beautiful and tell a unique story and are strung on a double set of sterling silver beads. Let me know what you see in this piece.

I can’t wait for Thanksgiving because I LOVE TURKEY (…and dressing) !!