Historic San Ildefonso Pueblo Black-on-Red OLLA [SOLD]


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Potter Once Known

This historic pottery OLLA, or water jar, was made by an unknown San Ildefonso Pueblo potter. We estimate that it dates to between 1890 and 1910. It is in excellent condition for a piece of its age. The vessel shape is not unusual for San Ildefonso, though we would note that this is a particularly charming example. This piece has the style of neck which, after emerging from the shoulder, follows a straight line inward to the rim rather than making a semicircular curve back outward.

The potter selected the black-on-red style for this OLLA, applying her flowing designs in black over a rich red tone. The primary design band covers the OLLA in plant life, with a winding stem circling the OLLA just below its widest point. Leaves grow upward and hang down from the stem, appearing in curved pairs that are repeated but in a loose, relaxed manner. A second design band begins at the shoulder and reaches up to just below the rim. Three pairs of horizontal framing lines appear, serving as borders between the two design bands, the rim, and the base.

Although we cannot say with certainty which potter made this jar, we do know the potters who were making Black-on-red jars around 1900. One of them was Toña Peña Vigil. There are a couple reasons for considering that she might be the potter of this jar. The slope of the neck of the jar is like other jars by her, and she is known for making Black-on-red jars in the late 1800s.

Toña Peña Vigil was the mother of Martina Vigil, who we know also made beautiful Black-on-red pottery. Either mother or daughter could have made the jar. If Toña made the jar in 1900, she would have been approximately 60 years old, and If Martina made the jar at that time, she would have been 33 years old. Both women were probably actively involved in pottery production in 1900.

Other potters from San Ildefonso who are known for having made Black-on-red pottery are Dominguita Pino Martinez (1860-1948) and her daughter Tonita Roybal (1892-1945). The painted designs on this jar are like others in Black-on-red known to have been painted for Dominguita by Crescencio Martinez, who was the husband of Maximiliana Martinez—sister of Maria Martinez. Crescencio died in the 1918 flu epidemic.

Still another potter known for making Black-on-red was Marianita Roybal (1843-c.1910). She was an important potter of the time. It is conceivable that she was still actively making pottery in 1900.

San Ildefonso Black-on-red pottery was made concurrent with San Ildefonso Polychrome until around 1920. (Harlow, Francis. Modern Pueblo Pottery 1880-1960). Very little of that style was made after 1920.

We pursued this path of possibilities, not with the intent of naming the potter who made this jar, but to document potters who could be considered because they are known for such types.

Condition: excellent condition

Provenance: this Historic San Ildefonso Pueblo Black-on-red OLLA is from a private collection


- Batkin, Jonathan, "Three Great Potters of San Ildefonso and Their Legacy" 16(4) 56-69, 85. American Indian Art Magazine, Autumn 1981.

- "Martina Vigil and Florentino Montoya: Master Potters of San Ildefonso and Cochiti Pueblos" 12(4) 28-37. American Indian Art Magazine.

Harlow, Francis. Modern Pueblo Pottery 1880-1960

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

TAGS: Southwest Indian PotterySan Ildefonso PuebloHistoric PotteryToña Peña VigilMartina VigilFlorentino Montoya, Tonita RoybalDominguita Pino MartinezMaximiliana Montoya Martinez (1885-1955) or AnnaMaria MartinezPotteryJulian MartinezCrescencio MartinezMarianita Roybal

Alternate view of this Pueblo Water Jar.


Potter Once Known
C4654G-olla.jpgC4654G-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.