Sunface design in Hopi and Zuni artwork
Zuni Sunface Symbol

Sunface


The Sunface is an ancient symbol in Zuni culture, where it represents the sacred Sun Father. The Zuni have always honored the Sun’s vital role in the cycling of seasons and the success of crops, recognizing that the Sun’s warmth sustains life, enables growth, and brings joy and prosperity to the people. The symbol’s round motif depicts the Sun with a forehead split down the middle to reflect the eternal balance between sunrise and sunset. Rectangular eyes and a round mouth complete the face, and the whole is encircled by feathers that radiate outward like sunlight.

For centuries the Sunface design has appeared on a variety of surfaces and objects, but in its most cherished traditional form it’s composed of precious stones that are as meaningful as they are beautiful. The turquoise in the upper-right represents oneness between the physical and spiritual realms; the coral alongside it offers protection and comfort. The Sun’s main face is made of mother of pearl, which embodies intuition and imagination, while the black jet of fossilized wood completes the face’s features. Together these four materials and their vividly contrasting colors balance each other within a unified circle.