How pottery came to be: The Cherokee Story of The Thoughtful Mud Dauber

Making Pottery

The rich history of Cherokee pottery extends far beyond what many people believe or know, and it’s this history that inspires the Cherokee Copper team to create jewelry and new designs that encourages others to learn more about our culture and community. Our pottery pattern designs are from the story of the thoughtful mud dauber. This ancient story endures in our minds and reminds us that the possibilities are endless when it comes to creativity.

To get a better understanding of the importance of pottery in our lives, we must travel back in time to imagine the legend of a little girl and her encounter with a mud dauber, called didanisisgi by the Cherokee people. A mud dauber is a type of wasp which creates nests in the ground using wet, moldable mud. 

The Girl & The Mud Dauber

Our legend takes place thousands of years ago and involves a small girl on her journey to collect water from a spring. She walked and walked, carrying a bark bucket with her to fill with water. Suddenly, she noticed a pitiful mud dauber stuck in the mud and struggling to get free. Though she was terrified of being stung, she found a nearby stick and used it to help the small creature escape from the mud safely. 

She continued on her way, but along the path she tripped and fell, causing the bark bucket to tumble down and break into many tiny pieces. The bucket was ruined and the girl was devastated. At that moment, she heard a buzzing and noticed that the mud dauber she’d helped earlier had caught up to her. 

The mud dauber stopped and said to her, “Don’t feel so bad. I will teach you something useful. I will teach you to make pottery so you can teach your people.” The wasp began to gather clay from the bank, demonstrating how to mold and shape it into something useful. The mud dauber showed her how to make and dry clay vessels that could be used to carry water. These were so much better than birch bark baskets that would leak. 

The girl brought stories of her experience and the teachings of the mud dauber home to her people, and according to the legend, this began the longstanding traditions of Cherokee pottery. 

What We’ve Learned from this story.

This legend inspires us to create pieces that serve a purpose and exemplify the beautifully diverse history of the Cherokee people. 


Pottery gorget and earrings

We were so inspired by this story of Cherokee pottery came to be, that we created this special gorget. The design on on the gorget and earrings is inspired by the designs made on early Cherokee pottery. The designs were orginally made using carved pottery stamps. Our design was hand drawn by award winning Cherokee artist Moriah Stice and then engraved on to coper to make the beautiful gorget and earrings. 

Each time we were these pieces we are reminded of everyone who came before us and how they learned to not just survive but thrive. 




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