Historic Powhoge Polychrome Jar from San Ildefonso Pueblo


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Marianita Roybal, San Ildefonso Pueblo Potter

Powhoge Polychrome:

The Legacy of Marianita Roybal and the Evolution of San Ildefonso Pottery

The San Ildefonso Pueblo was renowned for its Powhoge Polychrome pottery style, named after the Tewa term for the pueblo. This style, predominant from about 1760, continued until around 1880, when it transitioned to the San Ildefonso Polychrome.

The characteristic vessel shape of this style is ellipsoidal. The body is adorned with a cream slip covering from the neck to about two-thirds down, while the lower third showcases a stone-polished basic tan clay. The vessel is framed by double lines at the rim, shoulder, and below the lower cream slip. The rim is painted red, separated from the cream slip by a thin red line.

The design elements vary between the neck and the body. Simple leaf forms encircle the neck, while striking rain cloud designs embellish the body. Each element begins at the upper framing line, blossoming into dark and light clouds, with dark rain clouds dangling at the lower end.

This jar was previously attributed to Marianita Roybal by Jonathan Batkin. A comparison with a similar jar featured in Batkin's 1991 article, "Three Great Potters of San Ildefonso and Their Legacy," reveals a striking similarity in vessel shape.

Distinctive features of the Powhoge Polychrome include consistently red rim tops, a trait that distinguishes it from similar types made at Santo Domingo and Cochiti, which have black-painted rims. Another consistent trait is the absence of red in Powhoge Polychrome designs. While Powhoge Polychrome sometimes featured ceremonial line breaks in the framing lines, this jar does not.

Dating back to circa 1880, this jar aligns well with the known timeline of Marianita Roybal's pottery making. Born in 1843, Roybal began potting actively by 1860. One of her pottery pitchers, crafted in 1881, is now housed in the collection of the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe. This pitcher holds the distinction of being the earliest vessel from any pueblo identified with a potter's name. Roybal continued her pottery craft until about 1910.

Condition: No significant damage or repairs. There are areas of abrasions and one rim chip. The jar has been examined under a blacklight and shows no signs of restoration.

Provenance: this Historic Powhoge Polychrome Jar from San Ildefonso Pueblo is from the collection of a gentleman to whom we sold this in 1992.

-Harlow, Frances H. and Larry Frank. Historic Pottery of the Pueblo Indians 1600-1880

-Batkin, Jonathan. "Three Great Potters of San Ildefonso and Their Legacy" in American Indian Art Magazine, Autumn 1991.

TAGS: Southwest Indian PotterySan Ildefonso PuebloHistoric Pottery

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Marianita Roybal, San Ildefonso Pueblo Potter
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