Editor's note: The American Museum of Ceramic Art provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the American Museum of Ceramic Art directly through either this phone number or web address:
Pueblo Clay, America's First Pottery
May 17 - July 12, 2008
This eye-catching exhibition tracks the historic development of Native American Pueblo pottery from its inception as ceremonial and utilitarian vessels to the marketable commodity it is today. The advent of the Transcontinental Railroad system and Route 66 Highway played a key role in this transition. The works in this show will be on loan from the Pomona College Art Museum collection, which is particularly rich in Pre-Columbian and Historic Southwestern ceramics, and from a number of private collectors. Highlights will also include examples of innovative pottery made by up-and-coming Native ceramic artists. This is a rare opportunity to see works that would be otherwise unavailable to the public.
For historical context, Pueblo Clay, America's First Pottery begins with a representative sampling of the Native American pottery collection held by the Pomona College Art Museum. Brought together over the last 70 years, this collection is particularly rich in Southwestern ceramics, both Pre-Columbian and Historic. Select pieces from the Mogollon (including Classic Mimbres), Hohokam, Anasazi, and Salado traditions will be shown to illustrate the most common characteristics of each. Attention will be drawn to raw materials, techniques, uses, and designs. The Pomona College Art Museum holdings were donated primarily by three collectors who were chiefly interested in their anthropological value. AMOCA's examination will include cultural information and examine the pieces from an aesthetic viewpoint, as extraordinary works of art.
The second segment of Pueblo Clay, America's First Pottery examines the transition of Native American pottery from a utilitarian vessel or ceremonial object to a marketable commodity, placing emphasis on work from the following pueblos: Acoma, Hopi, San Ildefonso, and Santa Clara, with minor forays into the pottery of Santo Domingo, Zuni, Cochiti, Zia, Isleta, and Jemez Pueblos. This changeover will be illustrated by pieces collected as curios during the end of the eighteen and beginning of the nineteen hundreds. The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad system in the 1880's inadvertently created a livelihood for native people who brought their wares to the railroad stations to sell to travelers and tourists. A Victorian Era belief that Native Americans were a "vanishing race," acted as additional incentive to buy pottery and other crafts as collectables.
The construction of a Chicago-to-Los Angeles highway, officially designated Route 66 in 1926, was another factor that contributed to growth of commercial Native American art production. Soon rivaling the railroad, the highway spawned a multitude of small service businesses to support the traveler. The post-World-War-II penchant for automobile travel brought motels, garages, and diners to the roadside, and in the deserts of the Southwest, trading posts, where many a westward-bound traveler would stop and buy Native American jewelry, pottery, rugs, kachina dolls and other crafts. Pottery representing this time period -- the 1930s, 40s, and 50s -- was mostly unsigned; however, with the rise to fame of Maria Martinez (1887-1980), whose black-on-black pottery gained wide-spread notoriety, there came an significant shift. Maria Martinez and a few others began to scratch their names into the bottom of their pots, and more and more potters began to follow suit.
A third section of this exhibition covers the transition from collecting anonymously-made pottery to a demand for pottery created by specific artists. This portion of AMOCA's exhibition will include pottery by the early matriarchs of specific families that have come to be well-recognized for their pottery: Grace Chapella, Iris Nampeyo, Fannie Nampeyo, Paqua Naha, Helen Naha, Marie Zieu Chino, Lucy Lewis, Sara Fina Tafoya, Margaret Tafoya, Blue Corn, Maria Martinez, and Santana Martinez. Pottery making was traditionally a woman's craft. Techniques and traditional designs were passed from great grandmother to grandmother to daughter, particularly in certain families, such as the Chapella, Nampeyo, Navasie, Chino, Lewis, Chavarria, Gutierrez, Tafoya, Gonzales, and Martinez families. Soon the list of ceramic artists also included men. Potters became independently recognized by name and by individual style, and by the mid 1980's, Native American pottery collecting had risen to a frenzy.
Selected wall texts from the exhibition
For historical context, Pueblo Clay, America's First Pottery begins with a representative sampling of the Native American pottery collection held by the Pomona College Art Museum. Brought together over the last 70 years, this collection is particularly rich in Southwestern ceramics, both Pre-Columbian and Historic. Select pieces from the Mogollon (including Classic Mimbres), Hohokam, Anasazi, and Salado traditions are shown to illustrate the most common characteristics of each.
The second segment of Pueblo Clay examines the transition of Native American pottery from a utilitarian vessel or ceremonial object to a marketable commodity, placing emphasis on work from the following pueblos: Acoma, Hopi, San Ildefonso, and Santa Clara, with minor forays into the pottery of Santo Domingo, Zuni, San Juan, Cochiti, Zia, and Jemez Pueblos. This changeover is illustrated by pieces collected as curios during the turn of the century. The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad system in the 1880's inadvertently created a livelihood for native people who brought their wares to the railroad stations to sell to travelers and tourists. A Victorian Era belief that Native Americans were a "vanishing race," acted as additional incentive to buy pottery and other crafts as collectables.
The construction of a Chicago-to-Los Angeles highway, officially designated Route 66 in 1926, was another factor that contributed to growth of commercial Native American art production. Soon rivaling the railroad, the highway spawned a multitude of small service businesses to support the traveler. The post-World-War-II interest in automobile travel brought motels, garages, and diners to the roadside, and in the deserts of the Southwest, trading posts, where many a westward-bound traveler would stop and buy Native American jewelry, pottery, rugs, kachina dolls and other handmade crafts. Pottery representing this time period -- the 1930s, 40s, and 50s -- was mostly unsigned; however, with the rise to fame of Maria Martinez (18871980), whose black-on-black pottery gained wide-spread notoriety, there came an significant shift. Maria Martinez and a few others began to scratch their names into the bottom of their pots, and more potters began to follow suit.
A third section of this exhibition covers the transition from collecting anonymously-made pottery to a demand for pottery created by specific artists. This portion of AMOCA's exhibition includes pottery by the early matriarchs of specific families that have come to be well-recognized for their pottery: Grace Chapella, Iris Nampeyo, Fannie Nampeyo, Paqua Naha, Helen Naha, Marie Zieu Chino, Lucy Lewis, Helen Cordero, Margaret Tafoya, Blue Corn, Maria Martinez, and Santana Martinez. Pottery making was traditionally a woman's craft. Techniques and traditional designs were passed from great grandmother to grandmother to daughter, particularly in certain families. Soon the list of ceramic artists also included men. Potters became independently recognized by name and by individual style, and by the mid 1980's, Native American pottery collecting had risen to a frenzy.
The works on display are from private collectors and the Pomona College Museum of Art. We are pleased to have this opportunity to share these pottery collections with you that would otherwise be unavailable to the public eye.
The Influence of the Transcontinental Railroad & Route 66 on Pueblo Pottery
At what point did Native American pottery become a curio-cabinet collectable, a tourist souvenir, or an object of art? For centuries, Native Americans created pottery for utilitarian or ceremonial use, but as the western United States was being transformed from the "wild" west into twentieth-century modern, Native American crafts became a commercial product. This shift in pottery production came as the result of cross-country transportation development, both by rail and by car.
The first change came with the advent of the transcontinental railroad in the late 1800s. This was the Victorian Era, and Victorians were ardent sightseers. This was also the age of expansive collections. Victorians loved to collect and display their treasures in scrapbooks, in their parlors, and in museum-like cases. They collected expensive and exquisite things antiquities, jewels, china, and silver - but also rare specimens and products of nature - butterflies, shells, fossils, bird nests, monkey paws, shrunken heads, and more. Photographs and picture postcards of far away places were also in demand. The prime motivation for this type of collecting was for show. Collections not only indicated wealth and status, but the scientific objects demonstrated human superiority. In their self-importance, Victorians surmised that Native Americans were a "Vanishing Race" and that aspects of their culture needed to be preserved for posterity.
After the arrival of the transcontinental railroad in 1880, the pueblos of New Mexico became prime tourist attractions. For example, the Santa Fe Railroad created an advertising campaign based on native arts. Railway travelers who stopped at various train stations on the way west became customers of the local native crafters, especially of those who made pottery. During this period, direct sales to tourists became a much-needed financial resource for American Indians. This was then, the point of transition from functional pottery to pottery as commodity.
The second change came with the advent of the automobile, which dramatically changed how American families vacationed. Route 66, which was conceived in 1927 but not completely paved until 1938, ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. Soon traders appeared as intermediaries between the Indian artist and buyers, and trading posts, proliferated along the famous route, marketing directly to tourists. In fact, traders often initiated designs and marketed specific types of wares that they thought would sell, thereby directly influencing the designs and types of objects that Native people produced. Entrepreneur Fred Harvey (1835-1901) was one of the first to commercialize pueblo products.
By the 1950s many trading posts had degenerated to mere "tourist-traps," merchandising cheap goods -- ashtrays, mass-produced flower vases, or foreign-made trinkets. It may have been a reaction to these establishments that brought about a resurgence of interest in native arts. Beginning in the 1970s and continuing today, a revived awareness has once more led to a wave of collecting and appreciation of native pottery as an art form.
Symbolic imagery is very important to the continuation of traditional beliefs among Native American groups. Marks made on pottery are not unlike ancient wall paintings that have long outlasted their creators. This language of symbols derives power from the Native American view that all things, living or inanimate, posses a spirit. Animal symbols are used to represent certain qualities and characteristics, while elements of nature represent the importance they hold for human life and existence. Hatching and geometric lines that may appear to be solely decoration often represent abstract ideas communicated through symbols. Common themes of Pueblo imagery include nature, and spiritual beliefs of creation.
Arrows -- Arrows usually connote direction, force, movement, and power. When used within a landscape they indicate direction. When illustrated with animals they represent the "heartline" which shows the pathway of breath or the life-force of the animal spirit. When an animal is shown with an arrow going inward, it acts as a plea for improved hunting conditions.
Lines -- Hatched lines usually indicate rain or movement. Rain equates to fertile land and represents a vital life source. There are many motifs suggesting rain and water. Other parallel lines may illustrate farming rows. Horizontal lines can be decorative or depict the horizon. Diagonal lines can indicate the journey of a spirit between worlds. Lines that encircle the rim of a pot sometimes have a gap, or "spirit break," which metaphorically releases the spirit of the potter.
Circles -- Circles can represent the earth, the sun, or the moon. Symbols in which circles are juxtaposed with diagonal lines signify the movement of the sun and specific times of day or year. Pueblo Indians rely on the sun and have carefully mapped its motion. Certain positions of the sun initiate duties like planting and harvesting as well as performing ceremonies. Concentric circles represent levels to the Upper world.
Kiva Steps -- The Kiva is an underground religious structure where ceremonies take place. They usually have a hole in the center to symbolize where the ancestors originally came from. The steps symbolize man's journey from the three levels of the underworld to the upper world, as described in the Emergence Myth. Steps are sometimes formed into the rim of the pot.
Spirals -- Spirals represent renewal and continuation. They can also represent a spiritual journey to other worlds or one's broadening of consciousness.
Bear -- strength, medicine
Eagle -- great spirit, courage, wisdom, connection to the creator
Turtle -- water, long life, perseverance
Lizard -- perseverance and keeping ancient secrets
Raven -- messenger
Frog -- renewal, spring, fertility
Serpents -- rain, archaic wisdom, healing, the male organ, speed
Parrot -- female fertility, family, prosperity
Deer -- plentitude, family protection, speed
Wolf -- loyalty, intelligence, guidance
Coyote -- crafty, sly
Spiders -- creative powers
Cricket -- music, spring
Avanyu -- Avanyu is a mythical water serpent who is believed to bring storms and sudden change. He is valued for bringing water to the land especially in seasons of drought. Avanyu is depicted on many Santa Clara and San Ildefonso pots.
Bear Paws and Tracks -- Paws prints and tracks indicate the presence of the animal spirit. Bear paws are a symbol of authority, strength and leadership. Tracks are used to show direction and are used in pictoral story telling. Grouped animal tracks represent kinship. Animals in pairs symbolize devotion and permanence.
Feathers -- Depicted many ways, feathers are marks of honor. They represent creative forces. They have many ceremonial purposes and are used on arrows and prayer sticks. Circular feather arrangements are part of ceremonial and war garments.
Handprints -- Representing the presence of humans, their work, their achievements and history.
Kokopelli -- This mythical flute player is dominant in Southwestern design. He is found on rock art as early as 200 AD and appears on pottery to this day. Some say he travels carrying goods, or that playing his flute helps seeds grow. He is a symbol of fertility of the land and of the male gender. The name Kokopelli may have derived from Zuni and Hopi names for a god, Koko, and a desert fly, Pelli. He sometimes resembles an insect or cricket. He has also been called a seed-bringer and water sprinkler.
Zia -- The Zia is a symbol for the sun first used by the Zia Pueblo. When New Mexico became a State, in 1912, the Zia became the symbol for the state flag. It is also seen as a cross, with four directions. The number four is sacred to many Native American groups for embodying the powers of nature- the four directions, four seasons, and four ages of man. It is a symbol of balance.
Hopi Sun -- The sun is seen as the source of life and tied to the Creator.
Clouds -- Clouds are usually illustrated by stepped lines that are shown with lightening arrows or rain.
Swastica -- The swastica design is found in many places throughout the world, though it is most heavily connoted with Nazi Germany. This design is used in Native American imagery. It relates to the beginning framework for basket weaving, with a simple cross design and ends that turn to the right or left.
Corn -- Corn is the staple of life. It is the symbol of health, happiness and fertility.
For reasons not completely known, the Hohokam, Mogollon, Anasazi, and Salado cultures all dispersed by the 1500s. Some say it was drought; others claim floods; still others blame the exodus on farm land too depleted to grow crops. What ever the cause, large communities disintegrated as cohesive, recognizable cultural units and moved southward to the valley of the Rio Grande. Here the natives had their first encounter with Spanish invaders.
As more Spanish arrived, friction developed over resources and gruesome battles were fought between the Spaniards and the southwest natives. In 1598, the Spanish government established a North America seat of government at Santa Fe. Franciscan friars arrived and began to encourage the acceptance of Christianity. Priests set up missions, usually built by native labor. But friction increased between the two cultures, and in 1680 a Pueblo rebellion forced the Spanish back to El Paso. Two years later, more Spanish soldiers came, and reversed the situation. Western pueblos were not involved in this skirmish, but the natives of New Mexico were forced to retreat.
Pueblo pottery production during the Spanish occupation was significantly reduced, and what little was made was not well preserved. The Spanish who used the readily available ceramic ware had little appreciation for native output. Secondly, Christian leaders banned the practice of burying pottery with the dead, thus depriving future historians of well-preserved artifacts. Thirdly, the freedom to move around and to trade pottery with other villages was severely curtailed by the presence of the Spanish. In short, as European peoples moved in, the natives were forced to cluster into fewer and fewer settlements.
Two more difficult changes had dramatic consequences for the southwest natives. In 1821, the Spanish ceded the territory to Mexico, and in 1846, the area came under U.S. rule. In spite of these tribulations, the Pueblo peoples managed to preserve many of their cultural traditions and beliefs.
Hohokam is the name given the ancient American Indian living in the Sonoran Desert (today's Arizona, Sonora, and Chihuahua), along the Gila and Salt Rivers during the period from 1-1450 C.E. Archeologists have identified four phases as follows:
1) Pioneer Phase (1-750 C.E.) -- initially characterized by small groups of pithouses inhabited by natives dependent on hunting, gathering, and rudimentary agriculture for nourishment. As agricultural skills increased, shallow water wells were exchanged for more sophisticated irrigation systems. People began to form larger communities made up of adobe-walled dwellings.
2) Colonial Period (750-900 C.E.) -- typically, the population lived in Rancheria-like lodges set around a common plaza. Canal construction improved farming ability, and trade networks introduced new seeds for greater crop variety. Archeological finds of turquoise, shells, parrot remains, and ball courts resembling those of Meso-America indicate far-reaching trade and influence.
3) Sedentary Period (900-1150 C.E.) -- with further centralization into larger, less transient communities, this period is typified by population growth and by advancement in farming, irrigation, and trade. The presence of ball courts, platform mounds, refined crafts, and burial rituals indicate increased communal activity and the existence of an organized socio-economic structure.
4) Classic Period (1150-1450 C.E.) -- for reasons not completely understood, the Hohokam region experienced a reversal in growth, which over a 300-year period gradually resulted in near extinction of influence. The Classic Period is divided as follows:
a) Soho Phase (1150-1300 C.E.) -- characterized by further centralization; a moderate decline in the population; and expanded, highly fortified structures which may have been brought about by an outside threat - perhaps prompted by competition for a depleted water supply.
b) Civano Phase (1300-1400/1450 C.E.) -- periods of flooding interspersed by periods of drought led large communities to abandon their "big houses," scattering in small groups throughout the area.
Mogollon is the name given the ancient American Indian peoples living in the high valleys of the rugged mountain range along the southern Arizona and New Mexico border during the period from 300 B.C.E. to 1300 C.E. Archeologists have identified four phases as follows:
1) Early Pit House (300-550 C.E.) -- characterized by circular pit houses hollowed out into the ground of ridges or mesa tops where settlements could be easily defended. Smaller and taller than those built by Hohokam natives, the pit houses, insulated by their below-ground location, were ideally suited to the colder mountain temperatures. Groups were primarily gatherers, but with the advent of the bow and arrow about 500 C.E., hunting became a viable alternative.
2) Late Pit House (550-1000 C.E.) -- growing in numbers, the population began to cluster in villages and to plant corn, beans, and squash. Pit houses, lined with masonry walls, and ceremonial Kivas, built in rectangular fashion, became part of the cultural tradition.
3) Mimbres Mogollon (825-1500 C.E.) -- ancestors to the modern Hopi and Zuni peoples.
a) Three Circle phase (825/850-1000 C.E.) -- populations cluster in villages consisting of rectangular pit houses, replete with plastered floors and walls. Serving as ceremonial structures, large kivas were hollowed out in the ground.
b) Mimbres Classic Period (1000-1150 C.E.) -- Mimbres is the most well known subset of the Mogollon culture. This period saw a substantial population increase and diversification of crops. The population shifted from pit houses to above-ground pueblos, constructed labyrinth style, around open plazas.
c) Casas Grandes (1250-1350 C.E.) (Paquimé, Chihuahua, Mexico) -- a major Mogollon site, central to the trading system.
d) Grasshopper region, (Arizona) (1275-1400 C.E.) -- characterized by continued population increases due, in part, to Anasazi migration.
Anasazi is the archaeological terminology given to ancient American Indian peoples located in the Four Corners region (northern New Mexico, southwestern Colorado, southern Utah, and northern Arizona). Initially the Anasazi settled into three areas, Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Kayenta, but later occupied the entire plateau. Archeologists have divided Anasazi history into two primary phases as follows:
1) Basketmaker Period (50-750 C.E.) -- as the name suggests, early Anasazi made baskets, but no pottery.
a) Late Basketmaker II Era (50-500 C.E.) -- primitive dwellings consisted of a circular frame of logs and branches, stacked around shallow-dug foundations. Petroglyphs seem to indicate the existence of a religious life.
b) Late Basketmaker III Era (500-750 C.E.) -- the people hunted and began cultivating squash and corn. The first permanent villages were established. Deeper pithouses were constructed, along with some above-ground rooms. The bow and arrow came into use.
2) Pueblo Period (750-1300 C.E.) -- a time of favorable climate, this period is characterized by growing populations, centralization, better farming systems, domesticated turkeys, increased trade, and above-ground housing structures, identified as pueblos.
a) Pueblo I Era (750-900 C.E.) -- with increasing populations, large villages, consisting of crude, above-ground, masonry or pole-constructed structures, and subterranean kivas, came to be occupied year-round.
b) Pueblo II Era (900-1150 C.E.) -- major construction accomplishments include wide roads, "great houses," made from thousands of tree trunks, huge kivas, cliff dwellings, and towers.
c) Pueblo III Era (1150-1300 C.E.) -- various factors, including environmental changes and rising conflicts, caused the villagers of the Four Corners area to abandoned their communities by 1300 C.E.
Salado is the name given the ancient American Indian peoples living in the Tonto Basin along the Salt River and on the rugged slopes of the Superstition Mountains in Arizona during the period from 1150-1450 C.E. Geographically, the Salado were located at the convergence of the Hohokam, Mogollon, and Anasazi cultures. The Salado people were most likely a mixture of these earlier cultures. The following characteristics define the Salado period:
1) Daily Existence -- With locations that ranged from higher-elevation pine forest, to chaparral, to high desert areas, the Salado were dependent on a mixture of sources for daily sustenance. Each distinct territory had its unique means of supplying provisions, including farming, gathering, hunting, and/or trade. Agriculture was supported by a network of sophisticated irrigation canals. Cooperative systems appear to have provided ample basics to the point of allowing for leisure activities, such as pottery, weaving, and stone work.
2) Architecture -- The Salado lived in masonry or adobe, multi-room pueblos, arranged in compounds around a central plaza. Smaller compounds of 30 to 100 rooms and larger compounds of 150 to 400 rooms give credence to the estimate of 10,000 people living in the Tonto Basin at that time. Courtyards, sizeable granaries, and large metates (grinding stones) suggest communal-style living. By 1250 to 1300, cliff dwellings began to appear in Salado territory.
3) Religious and Ceremonial Practices -- Unlike their predecessors, the Salado did not incorporate the kivas of the Anasazi or the ballcourts of the Hohokam, nor did they cremate their dead as the Hohokam did. They practiced a separate and unique set of religious and ceremonial rites. For example, burial sites were located in distinct cemetery areas. Tomb preparation and for-the-next-life grave objects with varying value denote the existence of a social class system. Aside from the existence of platform mounds, used for ceremonial purposes, little is known of Salado religious practices. The presence of tall stone structures, which appear to be solstice markers, encourages speculation that Salado's agriculture-dependent society embraced a religion fixed upon seasonal change and rainfall. The presence of facial and body tattoos, as indicated on effigy pottery, may have also played a part in ceremonial activities.
Hohokam pottery was made from local clays combined with temper (sand, crushed rock, or mica) to improve the strength of the clay and to prevent it from cracking during firing. Formed by the paddle-and-anvil technique, pottery was created in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, including jars, bowls, pitchers, scoops, and plates, in sizes that ranged from miniatures to large jars. Pottery was generally of three types: plain buff, red-on-buff decorated ware, and plain red burnished ware:
1) Gila Plain-Gila Butte Phase*
Plain ware was made from the beginning of the Common Era (C.E.) through the end of the Hohokam civilization. The potters used buff colored clay that was left undecorated. #P2875 is a good example of tempered ware, with glittering flecks of mica visible.
2) Red-on-Buff Decorated Ware
Pottery was decorated with red "paint" over buff colored slip. Examples from this period show expertly crafted and artistically decorated pots with a myriad of geometric designs, as well as images of humans, animals, reptiles, fish, birds, and even flowers. Anthropomorphic or human effigies, both male and female, and zoomorphic effigies of local wildlife were also produced.
a) Santa Cruz Phase*
Contrary to the hemispheric bowls made by other pre-historic cultures of the Southwest, example #P2595, with a flared rim, is typical of Hohokam bowls. The edge is decorated with hunch-backed flute players, which may represent the mythical Kokopelli, playing music. Many pieces depict abstract human figures performing various activities, such as seen on #P2678. #P2598 is a scoop, with the tapered end shaped like a human head.
b) Sacaton Phase*
Made to burn incense, example #P2668 is a censer, in the form of a Bighorn Ram. This piece may have had a spiritual or religious use. The scroll design on the legs of the ram is a typical motif. The double mouthed jar, #P2590, is decorated with a geometric abstraction of a horned toad. Jar #P2592 is a good example of the "Gila shoulder," a latitudinal interruption that changes the angle of the vessel's curved contour.
1) Red-on-Buff Decorated Ware -- Snaketown Phase*
Bowl #2680 has a corrugated exterior with a red herringbone design. The interior features a geometric amid a symmetrical pattern of curls and jagged lines on a striped background. This piece was repainted, as are many others in Pomona College's collection.
Note: Today's museum conservators would be horrified at the idea of repainting an antiquity. To understand why this was done, it is necessary to view this restoration in context. This piece was part of a collection amassed by Dr. E.H. Parker at the turn of the century. His motivation for collecting was more likely his interest in their scientific or archeological value, rather than as objects of art. Aware of their faded condition and concerned with preserving the details, the original designs were re-established.
2) Plain Red Burnished Ware
Undecorated red ware may have become the norm because of increased demand for storage pottery during a more sedentary period. The most remarkable characteristic of this ware is its highly polished surface, accomplished by smoothing the entire surface with a smooth stone. As decoration decreased, the variety of shapes and sizes increased.
c) Soho Phase*
#P2706 is a stylized, zoomorphic effigy vessel. Example #P2716 is an ellipsoidal vessel with fluted sides that takes the shape of a melon.
d) Civano Phase*
#P2722 and #P2721 are examples of smudged ware. Subjected to a pit firing, these pots were randomly accentuated by fire clouds.
*The word "Phase" is an archeological term intended to pinpoint a particular time and place where relics have been found.
Although Mogollon pottery is quite similar to early Hohokam pottery, Mogollon ware was produced by the coil-and-scrape technique. Bowls were often decorated with surface texture on the exterior. #P2621 is a fine example of a corrugated exterior. The interior of this bowl and that of # P2691 are "smudged." As this practice increased, the bowl exteriors took on more complex decoration. Red pigment was applied in a variety of geometric designs and scroll patterns which mounted in complexity as time went on. Note #P2692 with its symmetrical pattern of diamonds, composed of what look like woven strips. #P2693, shaped like a gourd, bears this same pattern, but has an effigy handle.
By the 1300s, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic effigies appeared. The human effigy, #P2617, complete with detailed head, limbs, and turquoise earrings, resembles similar human-like forms created in Paquimé, (today's Casas Grandes, Mexico). Similarities such as this underscore the overlap and trading that occurred between the dominate communities of the entire Southwest area.
The Anasazi culture produced great quantities and varieties of pottery. Archaeologists have classified Anasazi pottery styles into a number of wares or groups of pottery types which share structural and decorative features, as follows:
1) Tusayan Gray Ware
Early Tusayan ware was made of a gray clay body. The outside may have been corrugated as in example #P0580, and undecorated.
2) Tusayan White Ware
#P2519 is an example of Tusayan white ware. The interior is painted with vertical geometric bands in a random pattern while the exterior bears white dots on a light background. Though not present in this example, Tusayan White ware was often decorated with simple lines, frequently ticked or fringed, and narrow bands framed by narrow lines, sometimes containing rows of small dots. This design concept is generally the style thought to be derived from basketry.
3) Little Colorado White Ware
Bowl #P2530 is a hemispherical bowl with a rounded base and a small loop on the side. The exterior is corrugated. As was typical of this period, the interior's jagged-edged designs and lines were painted with bold, broad, and well-defined strokes. At this time the Anasazi were using temper made of ground-up shards rather than sand or mica.
4) Cibola White Ware
Cibola White Wares, made through 1250 C.E., are difficult to properly identify because production was widespread and there was a huge variety of forms - bowls, jars, effigies, ladles, scoops, seed jars and canteens - and only subtle differences are found in the painted decorations. Pigment was of the mineral type and temper was made of ground shards.
#P2855 is a dipper with a thick cylindrical handle painted with a black interlocked scroll. Inside the dipper bowl is a wide band of elaborate geometric patterns, typical of this period, which can be described as busy patterns of interlocking solid elements and parallel lines that tend to meet at right angles. Bowl # P2520 is also an excellent example of this precision. #P2513 is decorated with bands and zigzags, filled with oblique hatching.
The duck effigy represented by #P2572 is the most prevalent effigy form among the prehistoric southwest groups. However, the Anasazi were the most prolific in producing effigy vessels, especially the duck. The elongated shape served as a form of pitcher, many with handles to facilitate pouring. Note the curvilinear patterns of dots on the top and sides, and the black "Z" shaped rectangles filled with solid color rather than hatch marks.
5) White Mountain Red Ware; San Juan Orange Ware; Tsegi Orange Ware; Jeddito Yellow Ware
During this time, 13501600, plain pottery supplanted corrugated forms, and red, orange and yellow pottery was on the rise as black-on-white ware declined. As with the Cibola White Wares, proper identification is made difficult by the nearly non-existent differences between wide-spread sites and the overlapping variety of forms. As noted in examples, P2749, P0572, P2745, P2744, and P2588, clay bodies varied in color according to the amount of iron oxide present, which in turn was dependent on where the clay was mined. In terms of technical requirements, pots had to be fired in an oxidizing atmosphere to achieve a red ground.
Salado pottery can be divided into two Phases:
1) Black-on-White Phase*
AD 1100 to 1250
Initially Salado pottery was made using a paddle-and-anvil technique, later construction was by coil. At first, Salado potters were influenced by northern Anasazi black-on-white decorative motifs; however, Salado ware differed in its physical characteristics.
2) Polychrome Phase*
AD 1250 to 1450
Best known are the Salado polychrome pots, which were also influenced by northern cultures. This second wave of pottery creation evolved locally into three new types: Pinto, Gila, and Tonto. Primarily shaped into hemispherical bowls, tall-necked jars and animal effigies, all were executed in combinations of red, white, and black.
a) Pinto -- The earliest form of Salado pottery is known for a thin white slip on the insides of bowls, with an organic black paint which was used to paint geometric designs.
b) Gila - Polychrome pottery, identified by its bold designs applied in heavier paint, was often complex and asymmetrical. Bowls were typically edged at the rim with a discontinuous line referred to as a "life line," a mysterious broken border that has defied interpretation. Vessels were often decorated with images of snakes, lizards, parrots, stars, the sun, and eyes, while some were shaped to resemble abstract figures. When ware was burnished, polishing patterns were incorporated as part the design.
c) Tonto -- The third type of Salado polychrome included bowls, squat jars and ollas. Tonto differs from Gila in that red was occasionally combined with the white slip and black paint, and sometimes the outside of pots were painted.
*The word "Phase" is an archeological term intended to pinpoint a particular time and place where relics have been found.
The original Acoma pueblo, established atop a 350-foot-high mesa, claims to be the oldest, continuously occupied settlement in the United States. The Acoma line of pottery can be traced from 1750. In 1880, rail roads brought travelers to the area, and a new variety of tourist-trade pottery evolved. With the advent of trading posts, the commercialization of Acoma pottery revealed a demand for "cute" motifs such as parrots and flowers. By the 1950s a shift in attitude began to occur. Collectors began to favor certain makers and were willing to pay for higher quality work. As a result, potters experienced a new sense of personal pride in their work and began to sign their pots. (right: Lucy Lewis, Acoma Pueblo)
Lucy Lewis 1898-1992
Lucy Lewis learned to make pottery by watching other Acoma women. With no formal art training, she developed her skill entirely through observation and experimentation. She was particularly attracted to pots she saw in the kivas, decorated with traditional Acoma designs - parrots, flowers, and rainbows, which she began to incorporate into her own work. Early in her career, Lewis, like many other Acoma women, frequently sold works to tourists along the highway. As a mature potter, she was captivated by historic Anasazi shards, commonly found in the surrounding area. These remnants also influenced her work. Ultimately she developed her own version of black-on-white pottery, employing fine-line designs composed of hatch mark patterns. Best known is her "star-burst" arrangement. Lewis' pots exhibit a striking balance and rhythm, which she creates by adjusting the distance between lines, making them proportionate to the contours of the pot narrow at the mouth and foot and wider at the mid-point.
Six of Lucy's children learned to make pottery. Initially inspired by Anasazi, Acoma, or their mother's designs, each has moved on to develop their own original expressions. Today, Acoma's young, rising-star potters are taking the Lewis thin-line composition to its maximum potential the finest, most perfect execution imaginable.
Marie Zieu Chino 1907-1982
Marie Chino was a Native American potter from the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. Marie and her friends Lucy M. Lewis and Jessie Garcia are recognized as the three most important Acoma potters during the 1950s. They found inspiration for their pottery in old pot shards, and together led the revival of ancient pottery cultures in the Anasazi region.
Chino won her first award at the Santa Fe Indian Market at age fifteen. She, like Lewis, became famous for her fine-line black-on-white pottery and "step" designs. Her pots were distinguished for their complex geometric designs, combination of life forms, and abstract symbols.
As the matriarch of the Chino family, Marie helped her children, grandchildren, and many other students learn the fine art of pottery making. Many of Marie's descendants have carried on the tradition of making fine Acoma pottery, including her five daughters. Her daughters Grace, Carrie and Rose have established their own reputations as excellent potters.
The Cochiti pueblo lies on the banks of the Rio Grande River, between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico. This pueblo existed before the Spanish invasion around 1600. Archeologists include the Cochiti in the pre-historic Anasazi group. By 1850 their style was so distinct that it was given its own identification, Cochiti Polychrome. Cochiti potters participated in the tourist trade at the turn of the Century, where in addition to their traditional vessels, they found a ready market for animal figures, especially owls. In the early 1960s, the U.S. Corps of Engineers built the Cochiti Reservoir which when filled created a sizable lake for irrigation purposes, and which also came to serve as a recreation area. Sadly, the lake covered the Cochiti's primary source of clay, and greatly diminished the Pueblo's agricultural potential.
The Cochiti make traditional pottery, usually cream to white slipped grey-ware, with polychrome designs, and some figurative work. The designs on Cochiti pottery are usually widely spaced, with large undecorated areas of white slip in between black motifs. Cochiti designs include birds, animals and symbols suggesting rain in the form of clouds and lightning.
Helen Cordero 1915-1994
Helen Cordero was taught to make pottery by her cousin in the 1950's,
a time when the demand for pottery was actually in decline. Cordero seemed
a bit inept at acquiring the skills required for vessel making, so, at the
suggestion of her teacher, she turned to making figures, birds, animals,
and eventually people. As Cordero's production evolved, one figure stood
out, the "singing mother," who, with mouth wide open held her
child. This led to creating an adult male figure with numerous children
clinging to every part of him. Entitled the "Story Teller," the
work is reminiscent of Cordero's grandfather, who told great stories. Story
Teller figures became Cordero's hallmark, propelling her to fame. Her singular
success story brought Cochiti pottery to the forefront once more, with many
of Cochiti's potters embracing variations of this genre of pottery making.
The Hopi are thought to have migrated north out of Mexico around 500 B.C. About 1200 years later, small clans began to band together in larger villages, atop local mesas. The Hopi enjoyed this peaceful way of life, until around 1540, when the Spanish conquistadors first came to this region. Conflict arose between the Hopi and the Spanish, between Navajo and the Spanish, and between Navajo and Hopi. A long period of fighting continued to 1824 when Spain relinquished Hopi lands to the new Mexican government. Still, skirmishes continued between the Navajo and Hopi until 1879 when the U.S. government laid claim to Hopi land. Once more, fighting for their survival, the Hopi resisted until finally being forced onto the reservation in Black Mesa, where they live today.
Continuous conflicts and pressures restricted Hopi travel and trade, and nearly eradicated ceramic creation by 1800. Two outside influences re-energized the pottery tradition: 1) an epidemic forced many Hopi to seek shelter with the Zuni, where these refugees relearned pottery; and 2) a rising tourist market piqued interest in hand formed ceramics. The pottery style of that time was called Polacca; however, traders were looking for pottery that might pass as "old." They encouraged emulation of archaic pottery. Most famous of these styles was the Sikyatki, copied from shards by the famous pottery revivalist, Nampeyo.
Nampeyo c.1859 - 1942
As a historic figure, Nampeyo has legendary status. Trained by her mother, Nampeyo evidently showed early aptitude for making pottery. Photographs show Nampeyo at age 15 practicing her craft. Old pottery shards from Hopi territory led Nampeyo to seek out the original clay source. She began to imitate the designs and techniques in a style that came to be called Sikyhatki Revival. About that time, the first trading post was established on the Hopi Reservation by Thomas V. Keam, who promoted tourism and native crafts and provided Nampeyo sufficient exposure to make her a recognized figure. Nampeyo continued to use the Sikyatki pottery artifacts as inspiration to develop a number of beautiful motifs of her own: Eagle Feathers, Migration, and Spider, described as graceful, sweeping and curvilinear. The designs, executed in red, brown, yellow, and black pigments, were applied directly on polished clay (no slip base) that fired out to a golden yellow to orange range. Unfortunately, by 1920, Nampeyo was nearly blind, and though she continued to form her pots, her daughters and husband took over the painting. The Nampeyo legacy continued through daughters, granddaughters, and great granddaughters.
Nampeyo Family Tree
Southwest pottery making was a woman's task, passed from mother to daughter. But today, pottery is not necessarily "women's work." Men have joined the field as well. Examples in this case are generational. The "butterfly" motif used by Grace Chapella is also used by her great grandson, Mark Tahbo. Paqua (meaning frog in Spanish) Naha, who came to be known as "Frog Woman," signed her work on the bottom with a frog outline. Her daughter, Joy Navasie, who works in a white clay body as apposed to the yellow clay used by Paqua, uses the frog symbol as well, but the feet are webbed. Paqua's daughter-in-law, Helen Naha, "Feather Woman," signed her work with a feather image. Helen Naha' daughter, Sylvia, uses the feather image as well, but has added the letter "S" on the side.
In the Jemez Pueblo there was no revival or rebirth of a pottery tradition, because theirs had simply died. Pottery examples made during the Spanish rule or during turn-of-the-century times are so rare as to be almost non-existent. During the 1920s a feeble attempt was made to capture a portion of the pottery market, but poster-paint, and later acrylic-painted surfaces attracted only the lowest-end trade. In the 1960s some effort was made to use cast greenware, painted with fired-on colored slips. None of these short-cut attempts garnered success.
Much credit for the quality of today's Jemez pottery is due to Mary Small, who insisted that pottery be done the right way, by hand, with no substitutions. Two other families who have contributed strength to the Jemez reputation for excellent pottery are the Fraguas and the Gachupins. Examples, from the Davis collection, include accomplished pieces made by four generations of Gachupin-family potters. (right Mary Small, Jemez Pueblo)
Mimbres Indians were a small, regionally separate branch of the Mogollon peoples. Mimbres ware is among the most well-known of the pre-historic, southwest pottery styles. It is identifiable by its artistically refined and distinctive designs, often judged to be incredibly contemporary because of their stylistic composition. Centrally placed in the bottom of the bowl are paintings of people engaged in common activities, such as hunting or dancing, and animals. The bowl's upper rim is usually decorated with a fine-line border of geometric pattern. Whether representing reality or myth, the drawings on these bowls allow a glimpse into the life and times of the Mimbres culture. Picture bowls were often found at burial sites, placed upside down over the face of the body. A hole punched in the center of each may have been a ritualistic act associated with death.
Note: Current museum standards include ethics codes that acknowledge
the horrific desecration of sacred ground by pot-diggers of the past. To
learn more, read the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation
The history of San Ildefonso Pueblo is once more the story of Spanish domination -- rebellion and defeat, over and over until the Spanish finally subdued the San Ildefonso people. From that point forward, about 300 years, the potters of San Ildefonso have continued to add countless improvements to their artistic and technical skill. From early times to 1900, most of the pottery was polychrome, but after 1920, black on a red ground became the dominate style.
Maria Martinez 1888-1980
Probably the most famous name among the pueblo potters is Maria Martinez. As a young girl, Maria watched her aunt make pots. Although the availability of tin and enamel-ware vessels had supplanted pottery as a utilitarian necessity, Maria remained fascinated with the process and began to try to make pots on her own. Soon she gained notoriety for her ability to quickly produce large, well-proportioned ollas. After marrying, Maria and husband Julian produced pottery together, becoming known for their black-on-black pots. Stories vary as to how this discovery transpired, but the importance of this innovative phenomenon cannot be over stressed. After Julian's death in 1943, Maria began working with her daughter-in-law Santana, as well as other family members.
It was in 1919 that Maria and Julian invented their black-on-black technique. Although other pueblos, such as Santa Clara, had been producing black wares, their new process allowed for certain areas of the pottery to have a matte finish while other areas remained glossy. After forming, the pot is partially dried, (to the leather-hard stage), scraped, sanded, and coated with red slip. Next, and most critical, the pot is burnished with a smooth stone until it is polished and smooth. Using a positive/negative system, another layer of liquid slip is painted over every area that is not part of the design. Firing takes place in the open, using an age-old, bonfire-like process. Pots are carefully placed in a central area, surrounded by cow manure and wood. The pile is set afire and left to burn long enough to make the clay hard. Next, the fire is smothered with ash or fresh manure, producing a smoke-filled, oxygen free, atmosphere that turns the pots black. In the end, the burnished areas retain their shine, while the areas painted with the second layer of slip become matte. (right: San Ildefonson Pueblo)
San Juan Pueblo, one of the larger northern pueblos, is located on the Rio Grande in New Mexico. When Spanish took possession of the area, they established a settlement and a mission at San Juan where Christianity was forced upon the natives. It was the home of Popé, a medicine man who led the Native Americans in the Pueblo revolt of 1680. In 1692, shortly after Popé's death, they were re-conquered by the Spaniards.
Examples of turn-of-the-century San Juan pottery are not plentiful. What is known is that early pots were thinner and harder (due to a hotter firing temperature) than ware produced by other pueblos of that time, and pieces were typically burnished on the upper portion and left matt on the bottom. Since 1930, a very different and distinctive style has existed. The majority of pots are burnished at the mouth and foot, leaving a wide band of matt between on which blocky geometric patterns are incised. The deeply outlined shapes are painted with colored slips of white, cream, red and shades of gold and buff. Often the slips are made of micaceous clay which gives a bit of "sparkle" to the work.
The history of the Santa Clara Pueblo is very similar to the other pueblo groups of the region. It started with a mesa-top community in the 1300s which relocated to the Rio Grande area in the 1500s. They were invaded by the Spanish around 1540, built a mission (1629), and burned it during a rebellion (1680). By 1700 they had come full circle and were back on Black Mesa, building a new improved mission. Just as it affected Hopi, San Ildefanso, and other Pueblos, the tourist trade boom of the 1900s generated an interest in pottery. Today the peaceful community boasts more than 200 potters.
During the sixties, the Santa Clara pottery rose to fame, commanding steep prices, which today are still the highest of any pottery in the region. Motifs include bear-claw prints, avanyu water serpents, and geometric patterns.
Aside from the black pottery, Santa Clara potters also produce red ware. Black pots and red pots are made from the same clay body. The red pottery is fired in a oxygen rich atmosphere, while black is the result of smothering the ware in hot ash to cut off the oxygen supply. Redware is sometimes left plain as seen in the melon jar produced by Angela Baca. Note Baca's identical melon vessel in black. Polychromed redware with predominately geometric designs, particularly popular from 1930-1960, are outlined with buff, orange, blue, and white pigments. As demonstrated by the piece made by Sammy Naranjo, contemporary potters are experimenting with making ware that is half way between red and black (sienna ware) and making use of a sgraffito technique to incise intricate patterns into the clay.
The hallmark of the Santa Clara potters is the black, highly polished, deeply-carved ware, made famous by the Tafoya family, beginning with Sara Fina Guiterrez Tafoya (1863-1949) and passed on to her daughter, Margaret Tafoya (1904-2001). By the 1960s Margaret's pottery had become famous. She received the Best of Show Award in 1978 & 79 at the Santa Fe Indian Market, and in 1984, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a National Heritage Fellowship in recognition of her accomplishments. To date the Tafoya family claims over one hundred pottery-producing family members.
SANTO DOMINGO PUEBLO
Evidence of Santo Domingo pottery prior to 1880 is virtually non-existent; however, we know that turn-of-the-century ware was one of two types, both executed in black or red pigments painted over a wide swath of cream-colored, rag-wiped bentonite slip. Kiua Polychrome is all about geometric patterns and divisions, while Santo Domingo Polychrome is decorated with flowers, leaves and wildlife. Some of the natural red clay body is left un-slipped -- at the top, under belly, or inside -- and is burnished to a fine sheen. The most popular forms during those days were pitchers and giant bread bowls.
Kiua geometric ware was often so densely painted that the red and black pigments nearly covered the cream background. While red pigments are of mineral origin, blacks were achieved with organic paints made from boiled-down Rocky Mountain bee plants. At one point, the Santo Domingo Potters attempted to emulate the black-on-black pots of San Ildefonso. Note the one all-black pot in this selection, with its rather crude execution.
The Santo Domingo Pueblo, located near the ancient Cerrillos turquoise
mines, has a history of making fine jewelry. Pottery has played second fiddle
to this popular industry; but today, a stronger interest in ceramics, especially
among certain families, promises great innovation for the future.
Zia's conflicts with the Spanish -- battles, revolts, and reprisals -- were particularly horrific, with lasting implications. Driven into an arid territory without sufficient water for farming, the Zia people found survival dependent on trade -- pots for food. It is therefore no surprise that the pottery made in the Zia Pueblo today originates from a long, stable, and readily-identifiable tradition. Pots are made primarily from brown, white, and red clays, and formed to be sturdy and serviceable. They are decorated with simple geometric designs, stylized flowers, rain clouds, rainbows, and birds (roadrunners). Changes in the Zia style have been slow to evolve.
Two of today's most innovative Zia potters have adopted acrylic paint
as their decorating medium. Both trained as painters, but in addition to
canvas, they now apply their images to the surface of pottery. The first
is Marcellus Medina who sometimes collaborates with his very accomplished
potter wife, Elizabeth. She makes the pot and Marcellus paints exquisite
Zia dancers over a white slip. (See the large jar displayed by its self).
Ralph Aragon (pot with gray, stippled background) uses ancient rock art
as his theme, portrayed against a granite-like, textured background.
During the 1600s, the Zuni people met the Spanish conquest with less resistance than other pueblos. Choosing between two evils, Spanish invasion or Apache attack, the Zuni opted for the protection provided by Spanish troops. Pre-1930s Zuni pottery consisted of a broad range of crudely-made forms and sculpture made of "pink" clay covered with a thin white slip. The pottery makers favored water and hunting symbols, as well as frogs, tadpoles, heartline deer, and dragonflies which were most often drawn on the surface, but sometimes appliquéd in relief. Note the large olla with four three-dimensional frogs loaned by the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation.
By the 1950s, pottery making had sharply declined in quantity and quality because jewelry making, which brought in a far better income, had taken center stage. Two potters who "married into" the Zuni community and who became teachers at Zuni High School brought about an astounding revitalization of the craft. Daisy Hooee, a Hopi potter and Nampeyo's granddaughter (Note the Daisy Hooee pot [highest position] loaned by John and Eileen Collins), and Jennie Laate from Acoma taught pottery classes at the school. By the 1990s the Zuni again had a thriving community of potters.
A good example of the freshly revived Zuni pottery is that of the Peynetsa family. Note the two jars with heartline deer designs represented here.
PAINT, APPLICATION, AND FIRING TECHNOLOGY
Prehistoric ceramics of the American Southwest exhibit a great range of tangible and intangible skills -- dexterity, technological mastery, inventiveness, imagination, and artistic aptitude. Though there are individual differences between the pottery of the Hohokam, Mogollon, Anasazi, and Salado cultures, certain similarities exist.
1) Clay Body: Clay is basically earth. Specifically, it is sedimentary rock made up of silicate minerals with sheet-shaped structures that provide plasticity. Clay deposits are formed by prolonged erosion. Ancient native potters used locally abundant clays for shaping basic pottery forms. The clay was "mined," pulverized by grinding, and mixed with water to a workable consistency.
Archeologists have used mineralogical and chemical studies to analyze the unique and distinctive ceramic properties of ancient pottery in order to identify the location where they were made and the age of the ware.
2) Colors: Clay color -- white, gray, brown, or red, is mainly determined by the amount of iron present in the soil. Because of this different locations yield clays with distinct characteristics and colors. The body of the pot was made with clay which was readily available. Early Southwest potters often worked with more than one color of clay. Decoration was applied by brushing darker or lighter colors - red, black, and white, over the surface. Sometimes designs were painted directly onto the original forming clay body. At other times a slip, made from a different color of clay, was washed over the entire surface before applying the design.
3) Forming: Pots were formed in two ways: --
a) Paddle and Anvil -- The Hohokam community used a paddle-and-anvil technique, which involved the use of a wooden paddle to shape a "pancake" of clay over an existing form, or anvil, such as a stone or a previously fired pot. After forming the base of the pot, wide strips or thick coils of clay were added to the upper portion, thinned and shaped by continued use of the paddle-and-anvil method.
b) Coil and Scrape -- This method makes use of thin coils, joined and smoothed, to form the body of the pot. At a leather-hard stage, the exterior is scraped with a gourd rib to craft walls that are uniform and compressed. A final step included sanding the exterior with sandstone to smooth the surface.
4) Polishing: Before pots were completely dry, the surface was given a sheen by burnishing with a smooth stone. Sometimes burnishing took place after the pot's surface was "slipped" with a thin layer of contrasting colored clay.
5) Decorating: More than 1000 years ago, Native American potters painted designs, images, and symbols on their pots with "brushes" made from yucca fronds, chewed at the tip to create soft bristles. "Paint"* was of two types:
a) Carbon -- Carbon "paint"* is made from plant material, boiled and reduced to a sticky mass. When fired, the organic paint is charred in the flame, giving it permanence and a strong black color.
b) Mineral -- Mineral stains are made from iron, manganese, or copper, alone or in combination. These pigments are finely ground and mixed in a solution of water or water with added clay to form a color-saturated slip.
i. Red and Red-Brown "paint"* is made from a thin, iron-rich slip that is applied to the surface
ii. White "paint"* is obtained from very pure clay like kaolin, that is free from iron
iii. Black "paint"* applied to the polychrome has the most variation in its materials, and the technology involved in its application and firing is the most complex. Black paint is made from carbon, minerals, or a combination of the two. Organic black paint, or carbon paint, may be obtained from a variety of plant sources. Inorganic paint, or mineral paint, can be obtained from iron or manganese pigments.
c) Carbon/mineral -- Some "paints"* were made from a combination of minerals and organic materials. The organic material acted as a binder to boost adherence of the "paint"* to the pot surface.
6) Firing: Pottery was fired in the open, or in a shallow pit, using cow manure and/or wood for fuel. The length of the firing, final temperature, and firing atmosphere - either oxidization or reduction (reduced oxygen) -- affected the surface color of the ceramic vessels.
*The word "paint" is used loosely to refer to the mineral or organic pigments that were applied to the pot with a brush.
Editor's note: RL readers may also enjoy
Maria Martinez: Notable New Mexican [5:08] Orginally broadcast on New Mexico PBS station KNME.
Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Resource Library.
Search Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.
Copyright 2008 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.