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Cochiti Pueblo Storage Jar with Lid


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Potter Unknown

The history of pottery vessels from Cochiti Pueblo is more of an early 20th century phenomenon than earlier.  Collections made for the Smithsonian in 1880 were almost void of ollas and bowls but consisted of figurines and effigy vessels.  Why did Cochiti potters not make ollas, storage jars, and bowls?  Apparently they preferred to get them from Acoma, Zia and Zuni Pueblospueblos with stronger vessels and with more interesting designs than that which was traditional at Cochiti?  Perhaps Cochiti potters appreciated the beauty of pottery from the other pueblos or perhaps making figurative pottery was so ingrained in the culture, that it had become a way of life for Cochiti potters.


In the early 20th century, however, vessels began appearing at Cochiti.  It could have been the influence of the commercial market or, later, the influence of Indian Market.  It seems that storage jars, canteens, bowls, and ollas from Cochiti potters began being seen around 1900 and continued into the 1930s but did not find a ready market so their production began to decline.


Interestingly, early storage jars, ollas and other vessels were very well constructed even though potters at Cochiti did not have much experience making them.  Perhaps just the fact that they were experienced in making pottery figurines was sufficient to switch to making vessels.


This large storage jar was very well made and decorated beautifully.  The interior of the jar is slipped in red clay with a slight exposure of mica.  The inside rim is painted with an additional band of red down to about two inches from the edge.  The exterior is slipped in traditional Cochiti rag-wiped slip over which the designs were painted with guaco (wild spinach or the Rocky Mountain Bee plant).  The lower third of the jar is slipped in red clay with visible mica flecks. 


The lid of the jar is slipped on the interior with the same slip used on the exterior of the jar, not the slip used on the inside of the jar.  The collar-shape of the lid is unusual for a storage jar.  I do not believe I have ever seen one of this style, however, it might have been made in that manner to provide a better fit for securing the items in the jar.   


Condition: very good condition

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

Provenance: from the collection of George Marsik of Chicago and Santa Fe, then from the collection of Howard Huston of Texas, and now from the collection of a Denver resident.

close up view

Potter Unknown
C3668B-storage.jpgC3668B-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.