Ohkay Owingeh Historic Pottery Storage Jar ca. 1880s


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Pueblo Potter Unknown

This incredible storage jar was made by an unknown San Juan Pueblo (now Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo) artist. It likely dates to the 1880s or early 1890s, and it was clearly used by its maker or her family, though not for long—it was eventually acquired by a businessman who operated mercantiles in Espanola and Taos.

Those who are familiar with Ohkay Owingeh wares of the late 19th century will recognize the two characteristics that make this a unique piece. The first is its shape. The typical Ohkay Owingeh storage jar from this period is globular, with a short, upturned rim. This piece is taller than it is wide—just by two inches, technically, but that's more than enough to create a unique and striking visual impression. As admirers of historic Ohkay Owingeh pottery, we are fond of the globular style, but we are also excited by pieces that deviate from the norm.

The second unusual attribute is the highly polished surface. Most pieces from this pueblo and era are polished, but in a looser, rougher manner than that which adorns this jar. This piece is polished to a smooth, glassy, and reflective sheen, in the way that later works would be, but historic pieces rarely were. There is a great deal of pleasure to be found in observing the interactions between this jar's polished surface and the light sources around it.

The Black-over-gray coloration seen here is a result of the firing process, with the common alternative being Red-over-tan vessels. The upper three quarters of the jar are slipped and polished, which results in the beautiful black coloration. Variations appear, with a soft copper tone emerging softly in certain areas. The bottom section is unslipped, with the clay's natural color taking on a gray tone during firing. Gorgeous fire cloud formations appear all around the base, adding an additional dimension of beauty to the jar. This is a superb example of historic Ohkay Owingeh pottery.

The jar stands securely on its flattened base. A metal display stand is included, should the buyer wish to elevate the jar by a few inches.

Condition: wear from use in the form of small rim chips, a crack near the base, and slip abrasions around the jar's center. No restoration or repair.

Provenance: this Ohkay Owingeh Historic Pottery Storage Jar ca. 1880s was originally acquired by a local businessman who operated mercantile stores in Espanola and Taos, likely in exchange for groceries and clothing. The businessman was based in Espanola from 1898 to 1904, and his family believes he acquired it during that period. Eventually it was moved from his mercantile to his home, and it has remained in the family ever since.

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

TAGS: Southwest Indian PotterySan Juan PuebloHistoric Pottery

Condition: Wear from use in the form of small rim chips, a crack near the base, and slip abrasions around the jar’s center. No restoration or repair.

Pueblo Potter Unknown
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