Tohono Chul’s Permanent Collection consists of artworks and artifacts representative of the Nature, Art, and Culture of the Sonoran Desert Region. Ranging from basketry and fiber arts to sculptural works and paintings, works from the Permanent Collection are displayed through our Quarterly “Collection Spotlight” and periodically in our thematic exhibitions.

Many of the sculptural works on the grounds are Permanent Collection items, including work by Mark Rossi, Fred Borcherdt, Ned Egen, and many others on display year-round.

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CURRENT COLLECTION SPOTLIGHT:

Zuni Sunface Jewelry

Zuni jewelry is known for its stone inlays. Zuni jewelers have mastered the channel inlay technique in which stones are pieced together into channels created by soldering silver pieces vertically onto a backing plate and finished by polishing the stones flat. The end result is a seamless design or image of colorful stones surrounded by veins of silver.

The Sunface symbol seen here is a common motif in Zuni culture and can be found in jewelry, pottery, and textiles. The Zuni, like many Native American tribes, relied on an agricultural lifestyle and developed a keen understanding of the relationships between their crops and the various seasons. The Sun is immensely important to crop yields and is considered one of the most important deities to the Zuni people. The Sun is the bringer of abundance, stability, and prosperity to families and brings joyfulness to children.

The central sphere represents the face of the sun. The forehead is typically split into two or three sections. These sections represent two concepts. The first concept explores the importance of balance between being part of a family unit while maintaining a unique sense of individual self. The second concept represents the continuous cycle of sunrise and sunset. The Sunface is surrounded by a feather motif which represents the rays of the sun as it sets and rises.

 

Image: Benjy and Shirley Tzuni .  Inlay and Needlepoint Sunface

 

 

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