Historic Black and White Pottery OLLA from Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico

C4624F-acoma.jpg

+ Add to my watchlist Forward to Friend


Once Known Native American Potter
  • Category: Historic
  • Origin: Acoma Pueblo, Haak’u
  • Medium: clay, pigments
  • Size: 11-¼” height x 12-¼” diameter
  • Item # C4731B
  • Price: $10000

The Acoma Pueblo OLLA: A Study in Timeless Beauty

This exquisite black-on-white OLLA, a traditional water jar, is the work of an unidentified artist from the Acoma Pueblo. Its creation dates back to the late 19th or early 20th century, a period rich in cultural and artistic expression.

The OLLA's design is captivating, with rounded shoulders that gracefully transition into a slightly extended neck. This unique form, coupled with a diameter that exceeds its height by approximately an inch, results in a vessel that exudes balance and harmony.

The artist, whose identity remains a mystery, opted for a black-on-white palette, a choice that sets this piece apart from the brightly colored pigments prevalent during that era. The exterior of the OLLA is adorned with a primary cluster of design elements, repeated thrice, incorporating a variety of traditional Acoma motifs within and around a central rectangular form. From each corner of the squares, a leaf extends, reaching either up to the rim or down to the red-slipped base. The tips of these leaves meet their counterparts, interconnecting the design clusters into a larger, continuous pattern. Within each "V" shape formed by two adjoining leaves, a series of vertical lines create miniature yet potent rainstorms, adding a dynamic element to the OLLA's surface.

Earlier this year, we cataloged a piece bearing designs nearly identical to those on this OLLA. The only discernible difference was the presence of bright orange pigment in certain areas of the previously listed piece. The striking similarity in their shapes leads us to conjecture that both pieces were crafted by the same potter. Interestingly, a jar mirroring the design of these two pieces was photographed in 1902 by Miss Josephine Foard. The jar was perched on an adobe wall near the train station at Laguna Pueblo. This photograph is featured as Figure 26.10 in the book "The Pottery of Acoma Pueblo" (page 532).

Francis Harlow and Dwight Lanmon, co-authors of the book, state: "unidentified potter, almost certainly from Acoma, ca. 1902. The photograph was taken near the Laguna train station, where potters from Acoma and Laguna gathered to await the arrival of Santa Fe Railroad trains." While we cannot identify the potter with confidence, we can say that we believe these pots were made by the same artist. The photograph provides further evidence in support of our estimated age for this piece.

While we strive for accuracy in detailing these unsigned pieces, it's the immeasurable attributes that truly define them: the inherent beauty of the piece and the energy it radiates. This OLLA is a testament to that, excelling in its aesthetic appeal. It embodies classic Acoma artistry in every aspect, making it a delight to both view and handle.


Condition: Excellent condition. Visible wear and abrasion from handling, and one small area of overpaint which is visible only under a blacklight. No chips or cracks.

Provenance: this Historic Black and White Pottery OLLA from Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico is from a private New Mexico collection

Reference: The Pottery of Acoma PuebloFigure 26.10, page 532. Francis Harlow and Dwight Lanmon

TAGS: Southwest Indian PotteryAcoma PuebloHistoric Pottery

Alternate view of this vessel showing the inside rim.

Once Known Native American Potter
  • Category: Historic
  • Origin: Acoma Pueblo, Haak’u
  • Medium: clay, pigments
  • Size: 11-¼” height x 12-¼” diameter
  • Item # C4731B
  • Price: $10000

C4624F-acoma.jpgC4624F-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.