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Rare Aguilar Kewa Pueblo Black on Red Jar

C3945B-aguilar.jpg

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Felipita Aguilar Garcia & Asuncion Aguilar Caté (ca.1880 – 1925)
  • Category: Historic
  • Origin: Kewa - Santo Domingo Pueblo
  • Medium: clay, pigment
  • Size: 11-1/2” height x 10-1/8” diameter
  • Item # C3945B
  • Price: $7,500.00

The Aguilar sisters—Asunción Aguilar Caté and Felipita Aguilar Garcia—and their sister-in-law, Mrs. Ramon Garcia, were exceptional potters in the late 19th and early 20th century periods at Santo Domingo Pueblo (now Kewa Pueblo).  They followed tradition in their early works in that designs on their pottery were typical strong black geometrics on creamy white slip.  According to some records, sales of pottery of all potters drastically slowed around 1910 and Mr. Seligman, trader at the post at Santo Domingo, suggested to potters that they try developing something different to see if that would spur sales.

The three potters developed two new styles of decorating: one was red and black with white outlining; the other was almost totally black with thin white outlining.  It has been surmised that Asunción Caté seemed to prefer the style using black and red, but it is not known with certainty as all three potters may have produced all three styles.  Most of the surface of a jar was painted with strong heavy black pigment and accented with white and red.

Sadly, the new design creations by these women were not received with any fanfare at the time and apparently sales did not noticeably increase, however, in the late 20th century, their pottery was received with much enthusiasm by collectors and their enormous creativity has now been recognized.

This Black-on-red jar may be one that one of the sisters made before or after their creation of new styles.  Santo Domingo Black-on-red existed before their creation of the new styles.  According to Kenneth Chapman, “From comparatively early times, a small quantity of red ware seems to have been made by a few of the Santo Domingo potters.  Not more than ten specimens have been found during the course of this study.  Most of these give evidence of considerable age, though two in the collection of the Indian Arts Fund are known to have been made by one potter as late as 1920.”

The potter referred to by Chapman in 1920 is probably one of the Aguilar sisters.  They were the innovative potters and most likely the ones who made Black-on-red jars.  The vessel shape of this jar is very much like ones that have been credited to them.  The design layout is also of a style credited to them.  Chapman suggests that the creamy red color was achieved by mixing the darker red clay with the cream clay.

Santo Domingo Black-on-red typology pottery apparently is relatively rare, according to Chapman, particularly from the early 1900s.  We know that one of the Aguilar sisters entered pottery in the 1925 Santa Fe Indian Market, so she was still producing at that time and is likely the one who made this jar and the two in the Indian Arts Fund.  It is not a style that continued much after 1920.  After the Aguilars passed away, it seems that Santo Domingo potters only produced the traditional Black-on-cream, so all the Aguilars’ efforts came to a halt. This is the only example of an Aguilar Black-on-red we have had, an indication that they truly are rarely seen on the market.

Condition:  very good condition with only a few abrasions to the paint.

Provenance: this Rare Aguilar Kewa Pueblo Black on Red Jar is from the personal collection of Carl Moon, famous photographer of Native Americans.

Reference: The Pottery of Santo Domingo Pueblo—a Detailed Study of the Decoration by Kenneth M. Chapman

Alternate closeup view of side panel design.

Felipita Aguilar Garcia & Asuncion Aguilar Caté (ca.1880 – 1925)
  • Category: Historic
  • Origin: Kewa - Santo Domingo Pueblo
  • Medium: clay, pigment
  • Size: 11-1/2” height x 10-1/8” diameter
  • Item # C3945B
  • Price: $7,500.00

C3945B-aguilar.jpgC3945B-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.