Historic Polychrome Wedding Vase with Unique Designs [SOLD]


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Pueblo Potter Unknown

This historic polychrome wedding vase was created in the early 1900s at San Ildefonso Pueblo. It took some time to identify the piece as a San Ildefonso artwork, as it does display some traits that we'd associate with other pueblos. The most notable of these traits is the coloration, resembling that of Kewa pottery. Consultation with a friend of the gallery who has studied San Ildefonso pottery extensively confirms that this is indeed a San Ildefonso piece. Who exactly made it will of course remain mysterious.

One of our questions was the lack of mica in the clay as it is usually sourcvisible under examination with magnification. We were told, however, that the source of the clay would determine whether there was mica or not. Older clay sources of a hundred years ago were different from those of today so it is not a fact that mica be visible in older San Ildefonso pottery. Confirmation by our source and having seen the walking sun design on a previous San Ildefonso jar was convincing evidence of the San Ildefonso provenance.

While we don't know the identity of the artist, her skill and spirit are evident in this wedding vase's expressive form and unique design. The wedding vase is not an uncommon form, but this is a distinctive example. Its spouts open a bit wider than usual, with one side slightly larger than the other. Despite asymmetry, the vase overall feels perfectly balanced, suggesting that the variation in spout size was intentional.

The designs are similarly spirited, using black and red over a cream slip to depict a variety of symbols. "Walking Sun" designs appear in the center on both sides—the depiction of the sun as it moves as the seasons change. Elaborate floral elements appear on the sides below the spouts, eventually traveling up each spout. Red flowers appear within the spouts' interiors, augmenting the exterior designs in an inventive manner.

What is the Purpose of a Wedding Vase?

Condition: very good condition, one very small chip in spout appears to have been broken and glued back into place

Provenance: this Historic Polychrome Wedding Vase with Unique Designs is from a private New Mexico collection


- Simpson, Georgiana Kennedy. Navajo Ceremonial Baskets: Sacred Symbols Sacred Space, Native Voices Publisher, 2003

- Harlow, Francis H. "Tewa Indian Ceremonial Pottery" in El Palacio, Vol. 72, No. 4, Winter 1965.

TAGS: Southwest Indian PotterySan Ildefonso PuebloHistoric Pottery

Alternate view of this wedding vase.

Pueblo Potter Unknown
C4686B-wedding.jpgC4686B-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.