The Zen of the Navajo Pottery

While I was still showing my work at First Friday, I came upon an older Native American man, and his grandson, setting up their display tent for First Friday. They were selling Navajo pottery, and the older gentleman was busy scoring the circle decoration on a pot he was finishing for the event.

The pot was big and beautiful, the feather decorations, all in a row, were the same size, and it occurred to me that he had no markings to go by! The feathers were being put into the pot freehand. His body rocked to the movement of the instrument he was carving with. He was humming softly, and I was bursting at the seams to talk to him about his work. How do you? Why do you? Aren’t you afraid?

Finally, he looked up, smiled, and said, “Hello”. I barraged him with all my questions, along with some well-deserved complements for his work. He simply told me that he enters a state of trust, that his hand will be guided by forces inside him, and that the feather pattern will meet up and match where he started. “It takes patience,” he added gently, but pointedly!

Every time I look at a Navajo pot, I think of that wise man, his concentration and skill that he claimed came from an inner source. I have come to refer to this force as the “Zen of Navajo Pottery”.

In order to illustrate my point I have placed one of my Navajo pots with my Buddha Light. Patience and giving up the conscious mind for inner guidance seems to be the wisdom of more than one culture.

The “Zen of Navajo Pottery” is a 9×12 oil on canvas-board and is part of the “Painting Today” series.

DSC_0534 posterized

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