Hopi-Tewa Polychrome Seed Jar with Ancient Sikyatki Designs


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Roberta Youvella Silas (1939-2009)

Roberta Youvella Silas was born in 1939 and began making pottery in 1965. She was the daughter of Pauline Youvella, of Laguna Pueblo, and Roy Youvella, of Hopi-Tewa. No one in her family made pottery, so she learned to do so by working with Helen Naha, or Feather Woman.

Silas lived in the Hopi Pueblo village of Polacca at First Mesa, where she was able to see many examples of ancient Sikyatki pottery in the form of shards. She incorporated the ancient pottery designs from these shards into her work.  Several potters of Hopi-Tewa lineage developed a wonderful design concept that is in variance with the more traditional Sikyatki-revival designs used by the Nampeyo family, yet it is based on the same origin. Roberta Silas was one of these who mastered the design concept.

Roberta Youvella Silas (1939-2009) signatureThis is an extremely well made medium-sized jar. It is nicely formed and painted with a precise hand. The ancient Sikyatki designs are a reminder of the continuity of pottery making on the Hopi mesas. It was signed by the potter on the bottom with her name, Roberta Youvella Silas, and with an eagle head symbol.  

The body design is filled with small square blocks, each containing a Sikyatki design, in a pixelated pattern.  The neck band features the tips of eagle feathers in a continuous row around the jar. Above the feathers is a band of four thin lines over which is a continuous row of thin triangles.

Condition: this Hopi-Tewa Polychrome Seed Jar with Ancient Sikyatki Designs is in original excellent condition

Provenance: from the collection of a client from Texas

Recommended Reading: Modern Hopi Pottery by Kathryn A. Sikorski

Roberta Youvella Silas (1939-2009)
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