Man has been deriving symbolic meanings of the horse since pre-historic tribes. The Native Americans are one of the oldest cultures to have featured the horse in many prominent works of art.
The horse played a very important role in the lives of the Native Americans. It was the ultimate work partner for the Natives. It was the premium mode of transport as well as the battle tank of the time. In fact there were many recreational activities conducted with horses in Native American culture. This close relationship with man made it a popular theme in many different art works that were prevalent in Native American culture.
Native American Horse Symbolism
The horse was one of the biggest contributors in the progress of Native American civilization. It was taken as a symbol of honor and reverence and treated with great respect. A host of different symbolic meanings were derived from Native American horse art out of which some were based on the horse’s form and the other on its functions. For example it was taken as a symbol of grace, beauty and nobility which are some of its inherent features. Then it was a symbol of strength, power and freedom as well.
The Native Americans also attributed the horse with the four elements of earth, air, fire and water. In some tribes the horse was prominently featured on war art. This was because it was a frequent accompanier of the Native warriors in the battle field. Special war shirts for example were often adorned with horse hair of different colors to honor the contribution of and the relationship between man and horse.
In its essence however the horse was a symbol that combined the power of the earth with the wisdoms of the spiritual world for the Native Americans. The honored animal was proudly featured on many different works of art. The horse was particularly featured in paintings and rock art developed by the Native Americans. However different colored horses had different symbolic meanings.
The black horse which is prominently featured in Native American art represents mystery and esoteric knowledge. It is also taken as a representation of death, night and secret. On the other hand the white horse stood for resurrection, illumination, vitality and light.
Native American Horse Pottery
Special pottery was created in commemoration of one’s favorite horse. In other cases pottery was created on the birth of a horse. The age old technique of Native American pottery was a delicate and time consuming task which goes to show how much they honored the horse.
Horse pottery incorporates the use of some horse hairs from the mane as well as the tail of the horse. This creates the dark lines to which smoked grey areas are added to create an aesthetically appealing design. Pottery work of this nature was treasured by the owners and often passed down generations in reverence of a favorite horse.