zuni sunface native american symbol

The Sunface symbol plays a major role in Zuni culture because it represents the sacred Sun Father. Read on to learn about the symbolism and traditions of Sunface, as well as how it is used in Zuni culture today.

Zuni Sunface Symbolism

The Zuni know the important role that the sun has in agriculture and sustaining all life. They celebrate the sun and created a symbol to honor it. Sunface represents continuity of their crops, stability and life. They also believe that using the Sunface symbol helps keep families happy and serene. The Sunface symbolizes positive energy, peace and happiness in addition to abundance, life, and continuity. Many Zuni continue to use this symbol for all of these things.

Variations of Sunface

There are different ways the Zuni depict Sunface. In general, the symbol consists of a round face, slitted rectangular eyes, a small circle for the mouth, and a forehead divided into two sections. It’s common for the forehead to be half coral and half turquoise. The splitting of the forehead into two sections is to represent sunrise and sunset. Each person exists as an individual and a member of the family, which is another meaning of the splitting of the forehead. 

Many Zuni artists add petal-like or feather-like designs around the face to mimic the sun’s rays. This is especially common in jewelry. The feathers or petals may only partially or completely surround the face.

How is the Zuni Sunface Used?

The most prevalent way that Zuni use the Sunface is through inlaid jewelry. Traditional stones used for creating this jewelry are mother-of-pearl, jet, coral, and turquoise. Coral provides protection and comfort and turquoise facilitates oneness between the physical and spiritual. Mother-of-pearl, used for the face, symbolizes intuition and imagination. Jet is used for filling in the details of the face. The petals around the face may be of turquoise or a mixture of turquoise and jet. 

Other ways the Zuni Sunface is used include pottery, fetishes, drawings, and paintings. A Zuni fetish is a small carving of stone, fossil, shell, or another material. Native American cosmology as a whole believes that fetishes lend power to the owner. The Zuni believe that they need to feed their fetishes cornmeal and ground turquoise. 

Zuni Sunface Options at Kachina House

We sell a wide selection of jewelry, pottery, and dolls that incorporate the Zuni Sunface. You can find earrings, bracelets, and pendants with different variations of the symbol, including the traditional style.

Keeping Zuni Culture Alive

The Sunface is one of the most meaningful symbols in Native American culture because it honors the sun, which is honoring life and positivity.