Beautiful Historic San Juan Pueblo Polished Black Pottery Jar c.1920 [SOLD]


+ Add to my watchlist Forward to Friend

Potter Once Known

The globular body of this jar with the long, graceful curving neck sets this jar above many of the same period. It is a major jar of the Black-over-gray style traditional to the pueblo. The finished clay body, after being smoothed with a gourd or other scraper, and possibly sanded or rubbed with a moist cloth, was partially covered in a dark red clay slip, which was meticulously stone polished with up and down and sideways strokes.  The red slip was applied over the upper 2/3rd of the jar, with the lower 1/3rd left in the natural state.  One often questions why potters would leave the lower part without slip application, but this is traditional at all the Tewa-speaking pueblos of northern New Mexico.  It is generally unquestioned on polychrome jars as it has become customary to see a tan-color lower body below the painted design.  The concept of San Juan pottery is the same— it only seems unusual until compared with the tradition at all Tewa pueblos.

The pottery jar was fired in a reduction firing which left the unslipped tan area in a gray color and the red slipped area in a beautiful burnished black color.  This is the historically traditional style of pottery at this pueblo, until a change in 1935 for modern buyer’s tastes.  The pueblo has returned to its traditional name of Ohkay Owingeh, but the pottery styles have retained the modern Spanish name of San Juan Pueblo.

This jar has a flat bottom, an indication that it was not made for pueblo use.  Traditionally, the underbody would be concave if intended to hold water and be carried on the head of a person.  It is estimated that the date of the jar is circa 1920s, near the end of the period of this style.  In 1935, potters at the pueblo developed a pottery style more like that of Santa Clara Pueblo in an attempt to attract the interest of buyers.  The older style, as is this jar, was reserved for pueblo use.

Condition: very good condition. There is a slight tilt to the jar, but it is not distracting.

Provenance: this Beautiful Historic San Juan Pueblo Polished Black Pottery Jar c.1920 is from the collection of a client from Kansas

Recommended Reading: Modern Pueblo Pottery 1880-1960 by Francis H. Harlow

TAGS: Southwest Indian PotterySan Juan PuebloHistoric Pottery

Potter Once Known
C4476B-jar.jpgC4476B-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.