Hopi-Tewa Bowl with Whirling Log Design by Nampeyo of Hano [SOLD]


+ Add to my watchlist Forward to Friend

Nampeyo of Hano, Hopi Pueblo Potter and Matriarch

Researchers have spent a great deal of time to establish the origins and migrations of Nampeyo of Hano’s prehistoric ancestors, the Anasazi people who lived in the Southwest near the Four Corners area from approximately the sixth century.  Over time, they migrated, eventually reaching the Rio Grande area of what is now New Mexico, settling in Northern New Mexico, where, as Tewa-speaking Indians, they still remain.

Another group of this migration settled south of Santa Fe in the Galisteo area and became known as the Tanos or Southern Tewas.  The area they chose was inhospitable to farming and production of pottery, so, after the Spanish were driven out of Santa Fe, the Southern Tewas moved in.  When de Vargas reentered Santa Fe in 1692, he drove the Tanos back to where they had come in the Galisteo area. The Southern Tewa, frustrated and angry, killed two priests.  To avoid harsh retaliation from de Vargas, as they fully expected, they decided to abandon their village and migrate to the Hopi mesas.

The Hopi and Tewa have different versions of the story.  One says the Tanos requested to be allowed to move to the Hopi mesas.  Another story is that the Hopi asked those warriors to move to Hopi for protection against the Navajo and Apache raiders because the Tanos were known to be warriors.  So, shortly after 1696, New Mexico Tewa-speaking Indians moved and settled in the First Mesa village of Hano, where they remain even today. It was these Tewa-speaking natives that were the ancestors of Nampeyo.

One of the agreements between the Hopi and Southern Tewa was the promise by the Hopi that the Tewa would retain their own language and the Hopi would respect it and not adopt it for their own unse.  Still today, the residents of Hano speak the Tewa language and the Hopi speak the Hopi language.

The Hopi villages experienced little interference from the outside world from the arrival in 1700 of the Tewas until the arrival of the United States government in 1860, at the time that Nampeyo was born (1857). Nampeyo experienced a normal life of a Tewa female, apprenticing as a potter, marrying, giving birth, and raising a family. It was her brother, Tom Polacca, who set the destiny of her future when he introduced Indian Trader Thomas Keam to her and he witnessed her immense talent as a potter.  From there, she eventually became a known person to the outside world.

Nampeyo was introduced to the pottery of the prehistoric Sikyatki people and, liking the designs, began using them as inspiration for her pottery.  It is not likely that she ever made exact copies of Sikyatki pottery but used it as inspiration.

Nampeyo worked most prolifically between 1897 and 1912.  It has been reported that she did her finest work during that period.  Of all the hundreds of pottery vessels she made, it does not appear that there are any two alike.  Nampeyo was an artistic genius and apparently excelled in creating new designs so it was not necessary to repeat previous ones.

This open bowl has a single design element—a whirling log or swastika.  It is large and bold, filling the entire interior of the bowl below the framing line.  The four arms of the rotating pattern were filled with parallel lines arranged on the diagonal.  The small round elements with three lines, located at the edges of the element, have been seen on other pottery by Nampeyo.

The design is somewhat weak in intensity, possibly as a result of the firing or perhaps a weak application of pigment.  The brown pigment used by Hopi-Tewa potters is known to rub off if the firing was not hot enough. The rim displays that extra roll of clay that Nampeyo applied, perhaps as a strengthening support for the rim.  There are four pairs of circular marks on the rim, perhaps marking the four directions. The bowl dates from the late 1800s to very early 1900s.

Condition:  one minor rim crack that extends about an inch in length

Provenance: this Hopi-Tewa Bowl with Whirling Log Design by Nampeyo of Hano is from a gentleman in Taos, New Mexico

Reference and Recommended Reading: The Legacy of a Master Potter: Nampeyo and Her Descendants by Mary Ellen and Laurence Blairt


Nampeyo of Hano, Hopi Pueblo Potter and Matriarch
C4166-bowl2.jpgC4166-large2.jpg Click on image to view larger.