Historic San Ildefonso OLLA with Ogapoge Polychrome Influence


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Once Known Native American Potter

This historic polychrome OLLA, or water jar, was made by an unknown San Ildefonso Pueblo potter. We would estimate that it dates to around 1900. As is often the case with works from this era, we are unable to identify a specific artist or family.

This OLLA shows the possible influence of a pottery typology known as Ogapoge Polychrome, which was a descendant of Tewa Polychrome. According to Jonathan Batkin's Pottery of the Pueblos of New Mexico 1700-1940, "Ogapoge Polychrome OLLAs are often decorated on a large portion of the upper body and many examples, but not all, have red paint in the designs. Painted lines are broader than in Tewa Polychrome, solid black elements are larger, and feather motifs are common... Ogapoge Polychrome is interpreted by archaeologists as an eighteenth-century type, but no evidence proves it was not made in the late seventeenth or early nineteenth century." [38]

While the specific elements mentioned by Batkin do not appear on this particular piece, the broader characteristics do. More significantly, published examples of Ogapoge pieces display designs with similar character to those which appear here.

This vessel shape is a traditional Tewa form that has been made for centuries. It is most often associated with Santa Clara Pueblo, but it was used often by San Ildefonso potters as well. This particular piece is a bit more dramatic than the typical example, with a wide shoulder that gives way to a sharp curve inward before turning up to a flared rim.

Many design elements appear, forming rhythmic patterns, which circle the exterior and complement one another. Together they form a composition that is bold and expressive, which suits the vessel perfectly. A few aberrations appear within the designs, but that seems fitting—it is apparent that the potter was enjoying herself while making this OLLA, and these slight deviations actually enhance the character of the piece. This is a unique, wonderful example of historic San Ildefonso pottery.

Condition: excellent condition, no restoration or repair

Provenance: this Historic San Ildefonso OLLA with Ogapoge Polychrome Influence is from a  private Santa Fe collection

Reference: Batkin, Jonathan. Pottery of the Pueblos of New Mexico 1700-1940. The Taylor Museum of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 1987.

TAGS: Southwest Indian PotterySan Ildefonso PuebloHistoric Pottery

Alternate view of this polychrome pottery water jar.

Once Known Native American Potter
C4743B-jar.jpgC4743B-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.