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Polacca-Style Polychrome Bowl by Nampeyo of Hano

C3304-bowl.jpg

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Nampeyo of Hano (1857-1942)
  • Category: Historic
  • Origin: Hopi Pueblo
  • Medium: Native Materials - Nampeyo of Hano Attribution
  • Size: 10-1/4" diameter x 3-3/4" deep
  • Item # C3304
  • Price: $9,375.00

I am confident Nampeyo of Hano made this pottery bowl. I believe she made it between 1890 and 1895. The reasoning for this attribution to Nampeyo is based on a number of clues.

The shape and construction of the bowl, along with the design elements and artistic execution, all point to her hand. The Polacca Style C designs she used on this bowl appear to be adapted from popular 1860 to 1890 Polacca wares. Who else was using these early designs but Nampeyo?

In the 1900 federal census, only Nampeyo and one other woman called themselves "potters." (Kramer, p.34). We know, according to Fewkes, that Nampeyo began to "cleverly imitate" Sikyatki ware as early as 1895. Based on this, I believe some of the pieces she made from Polacca wares predated those made from Sikyatki wares and were as early as 1890.

"Designs borrowed by Nampeyo from Sikyatki ware constituted only one of many prehistoric periods incorporated by the potter." (Kramer, p.160). This is another indication that she did not only borrow from Sikyatki pottery, but perhaps from Polacca, too.

The Nampeyo bowl is slipped with a non-crazing white kaolin slip as opposed to the typical crazing seen in the slip of Polacca wares. This eliminates the possibility that this could be Polacca rather than Nampeyo.

This bowl by Nampeyo conforms to the lower profile of her "Golden Age" bowls as described by the Blaire's in The Legacy of a Master Potter, p. 90.

While Sikyatki designs are far more common in Nampeyo pieces, examples of Polacca designs on her pottery are far more rare.

This is a very rare piece.  There is a fire cloud, as you can see in the photograph, on the interior.

This is a very important example of early Nampeyo pottery before she became famous for the Sikyatki Revival wares. There is little, if any, documented Nampeyo pieces prior to her becoming famous around circa 1900. There are probably other pieces of her early work around, but no attempt has ever been made to document them.

This bowl is an almost exact copy of one in the Peabody Collection. It is pictured on page 317 of Historic Hopi Ceramics-The Thomas V. Keam Collection of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, by Wade and McChesney.. Most likely, Nampeyo must have seen it at Keam's store before it was shipped off to Harvard. Note: click on the second detail image link to view the page of this book and compare for yourself (or click here).

The condition of this bowl is extraordinary considering its age. There has been some abrasion and some minor paint loss at the rim, but no other damage. There has been no restoration, repair or over-paint.

A letter of attribution by Dr. Edwin L. Wade is also included with the purchase of this bowl.

References:

Image: We are appreciative to Hopi-Tewa potter, Mark Tahbo, for sharing this photograph with us. The photograph was recently found in a burned out home at First Mesa.  This image was later identified as having been taken on July 8, 1913, by photographer Joseph K. Dixon. It is part of the Wanamaker Collection of American Indian Photographs at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Indiana University, catalog #1962-08-3279.

Image: We are appreciative to Hopi-Tewa potter, Mark Tahbo, for sharing this photograph with us. The photograph was recently found in a burned out home at First Mesa.  This image was later identified as having been taken on July 8, 1913, by photographer Joseph K. Dixon. It is part of the Wanamaker Collection of American Indian Photographs at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Indiana University, catalog #1962-08-3279.

 

Nampeyo of Hano (1857-1942)
  • Category: Historic
  • Origin: Hopi Pueblo
  • Medium: Native Materials - Nampeyo of Hano Attribution
  • Size: 10-1/4" diameter x 3-3/4" deep
  • Item # C3304
  • Price: $9,375.00

C3304-bowl.jpgC3304-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.