“Full Circle” by Judy Crowe
The wedding vase is a treasured and sacred element of many Native Southwest American Indian tribes, particularly the Navajo and Pueblo peoples. The vases are a beautiful and symbolic part of the ceremony performed just prior to the wedding.
First the groom offers his bride the vase his parents have made for the couple and she drinks from one side. She then turns the vase, and the groom drinks from the same side. In the culmination of the ceremony, they both drink from the wedding vase together from opposite sides attempting to drink without spilling the nectar made for the ceremony by the medicine man.
The vessel itself is beautiful, but its design and construction are an integral part of its meaning. The two spouts represent the couple, both the bride and the groom. The rounded base suggests the couple’s shared lives. The looped handle portrays this unity in a visual way, much like a wedding band is a visual reminder of the deeper, spiritual connection that a husband and wife share. The handle creates a circle in the center of the vase that represents the circle of life.
There is power in the circle in the Native American culture. The sky and earth are round. The wind whirls in a circular motion. The sun comes up and goes down again in a circle, as does the moon. Birds make their nests in circles. The life of man and all living things, flowers and animals, is a circle, from life to life. My painting, “Full Circle”, embodies these ideas in a representational way by depicting elements of life from man-made objects that will decay. The animal pelt, bird’s nest and flowers are here today but will, as all living things, pass on. The Bible says that the grass withers, flowers fade and our lives are like a vapor, but there is one thing that remains: the Love of God.