Tesuque Pueblo Black on Red Jar with Avanyu


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Artist Unknown

It is often difficult to distinguish historic pottery made at San Ildefonso from that made at Tesuque Pueblo.  Both pueblos traditionally produced Black-on-red pottery like this jar and it has always been similar.  Sometimes, the distinguishing factor is the natural tan underbody of the jar.  Neither pueblo applied a slip to the underbody, but only stone polished it.  The underbody is sometimes bumpy on Tesuque wares and smoother on San Ildefonso wares, however, that may not always be a determining factor.

Tesuque Black-on-red pottery is fashioned in the same manner as Polychrome pottery. Clay, temper, paste, and construction do not differ. The difference arises when a red slip is wiped on the vessel in lieu of a cream slip.

The underside of the vessel is concave, indicating a date earlier than the tourist era—perhaps 1890s on this jar.  There is a ridge on top of the jar which was typical on jars meant to have a lid.  This jar probably had a lid, but no longer.  The upper two-thirds of the jar was slipped with a creamy red slip, most likely a deeper red mixed with a cream slip.  

The design is interesting in that it is an Avanyu which wraps around the vessel body.  The Avanyu is, however, upside down.  The most likely explanation is that the jar was meant to be viewed looking down on it, at which time it would be viewed as right side up. There is a single framing line just below the rim and one just below the design panel near the base.  A row of clouds wraps around the neck and below the Avanyu.  A traditional dark red band was wiped on the area between the design and un-slipped underbody.

Condition:  very good condition - the jar had a hairline crack extending from the rim down to the shoulder which has been professionally stabilized and concealed.

Provenance: this Tesuque Pueblo Black on Red Jar with Avanyu is from the Vanderwagon collection which was purchased decades ago by Larry Frank of New Mexico.

Recommended Reading: Historic Pottery of the Pueblo Indians 1600-1880 by Francis H. Harlow and Larry Frank

Close up view of side panel design - water serpent.

Artist Unknown
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