Rare Historic Tesuque Pueblo Nineteenth Century Black-on-red Pottery Jar with Lid

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Pueblo Potter Unknown

This rare and historic Tesuque Pueblo pottery vessel has an inner rim designed to support a lid. It was not unusual at Tesuque for the potters to make lidded jars. Most lids have been lost or broken. Fortunately, the lid for this jar is still here, missing only the knob. The mirrored C-like design with eye-like elements and typical chevron elements cleverly conceals two Avanyu, Water Serpents, with their heads pointing down on one and up on the adjoining one (eee above image).

Tesuque Pueblo Black-on-red pottery is fashioned in the same manner as polychrome wares. Clay, temper, paste, and construction do not differ. The difference arises when a red slip is wiped on the vessel in lieu of a cream slip.

The underside of the vessel is concave, the vessel body is rounded in the best tradition of Tewa vessels, and the design is sparse, all of which point to a date of origin of circa 1880. The light tan paste at the lower third of the vessel exhibits the bumpiness that is a trademark of Tesuque. A red band at the upper end of the tan paste divides the design area from the underbody. Double framing lines above this red band, at the shoulder, and just below the rim serve to isolate the two design areas.

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between pottery made at Tesuque and those made at San Ildefonso because of the similarity in shape and design. There are a couple of differences that one can use when they are obvious. At Tesuque, often the design on the main body consists of individual items that float on the surface, unattached to other items. A good example is the design on this jar. The single design featuring two avanyu floats independently on the body, as do the floral designs around the body. At San Ildefonso, the designs are more anchored. Of course, there are always exceptions to this.

Another difference that is sometimes obvious, and less obvious at other times, is the appearance of the lower portion of a jar that has been polished without the addition of a slip. When rubbing your hand over that polished underbody on a San Ildefonso jar, the feeling is smooth. At Tesuque, the feeling one gets is bumpy. Give it a try if you have a historic jar from each of those pueblos.


Condition: this Rare Historic Tesuque Pueblo Nineteenth Century Black-on-red Pottery Jar with Lid is in very good condition with knob of lid missing

Provenance: from the collection of a resident of Santa Fe

Recommended Reading: Pottery of the Pueblos of New Mexico 1700-1940 by Jonathan Batkin

TAGS: Southwest Indian PotteryHistoric PotteryTesuque Pueblo

Alternate view with lid on top.

Alternate view with lid removed.

Pueblo Potter Unknown
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