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In Native American Culture the turtle has several symbolic meanings: strength, fertility, and perseverence. Not all tribes had the same meanings for the turtle. For some it was considered a power fetish...giving ability to defy death. Another tribe considered it a symbol of a meaningful and long life. My favorite is the turtle as a symbol of truth - this knowing of the truth symbolizes understanding and adherence to the laws of the Creator. Also common among many Native Americans is the belief that the turtle was instrumental in Creation.

The turtle's part in Creation is so important that some Native Americans still consider the North American continent as "Turtle Island". I like the idea that I am living on "Turtle Island"; however, I don't believe this turtle is from North America based upon what I was told by a member of The Turtle Clan of a North American tribe. This member, whose opinion I respect, said that this turtle is of South American origin. His personal experience as related to me..."While in Peru on business, I purchased a turtle very similiar to this from a Native of the area. She said it was from Venezuela." He believes it is from the 1930's and was made to be sold - not to be used in religious ceremonies.

Before and since this information, I have looked at thousands of photos of pottery art trying to research the little fellow's origin. I was unable to determine a possible artist, tribe or even identify the design on his back. I never saw one turtle like him. I did find a piece of pottery decorated with similiar wavy lines and dots. It was marked from Coop Ayam Andes Quibor Lara Venezuela. It appeared to be a much newer piece than this turtle. The owner of this piece was unable to supply any further information beyond the markings - except to say original owners traveled South America extensively many years before she acquired the piece.

This little turtle was created without legs. Not quite certain what that means, but he was clearly designed without legs. It is also interesting to note that his neck seems to be pulled into his shell. Well, I'm not an expert on Native American Art; however I have known some living breathing turtles. Pulling into their shell is a defensive technique for protection.

Before I gave him a home, he once belonged to a woman who had an extensive Native American art collection. She has long since passed on so I guess his history will remain a mystery.

Almost 5 inches long from nose to end, 3 1/4 inches wide, 1 3/4 inches tall. His color is tan, green, black with red dots. A hole in his underside reveals an unglazed interior of greyish white clay.

He does have issues: several small paint failings on his back and larger deterioration on the bottom - a circle of chipped area. You should be able to see these in the photos. In my opinion, it only makes him more appealing.

He would be an interesting additon to a collection or the beginning of a new one. Clearly the turtle is deserving of a significant position in our world.

Please feel free to convo me if you have any questions!

PayPal only please. Will package with care and ship with insurance next business day after payment clears.

Vintage South American Native American Turtle - Art Pottery


  • Vintage item from the 1930s
  • Materials: pottery, clay, paint, glaze
  • Only ships within United States.
  • Feedback: 21 reviews
  • Favorited by: 29 people