Very Large Cochiti Pueblo Historic Pottery Storage Jar with Leather Reinforcements


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Pueblo Potter Unknown

Among pueblo ceramics, large storage jars were probably the least frequently made, such as this Very Large Historic Pottery Cochiti Storage Jar with Leather Reinforcements. A single storage jar, or perhaps two, was enough for the average family home.  Such jars were generally located in a secure spot in or near the kitchen and used for storage of any dry materials. Loaves of oven bread might be stored in preparations for a feast day, protected by turning a bowl over the jar opening or simply draping a cloth over the opening.  There are many other ways for which a storage jar was put to use.

Large storage jars probably had their beginning during the seventeenth century in response to the introduction of wheat by the Spanish.  Decorations on such large vessels differed from that used on water jars, canteens and food bowls, as there was an excessive amount of space on which to place designs.  Rather than fill the area with a large amount of small design elements, it was more practical to use large bold designs for a stronger impact.

This storage jar has a flat bottom, which differs from the eighteenth century storage jars which had a rounded bottom—the size and capacity suggesting that they doubled as measurement devices and delivery containers.  It is difficult to specify a date that this jar was made but it was most likely the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

The potter chose to display three very large rosette designs and two  starburst designs on this jar. The rosette was a design favored by Spanish and Spanish American craftsmen for use on furniture.  We have displayed this jar on an eighteenth century Spanish Colonial New Mexican wood chest attributed to a member of the Ortega family of Santa Fe and dating circa 1775-1795.  Our purpose is to show the influence of Spanish Colonial artisans on Pueblo artisans.

This jar represents the artistic talent of a Cochiti potter who remains unknown.  She formed a beautiful large jar with absolute precision and applied a bold design of her own creation, perhaps her acknowledgment to the earlier Spanish American craftsmen of the area.  The jar was used early in its life and, apparently, following a crack at the rim, was needed for continued use. Leather strips around the neck, over the body and circling the lower part of the jar provided stability, allowing continued use.

The eighteenth-century wooden chest is not available for purchase.

Conditionvery good condition

Provenance: this Very Large Cochiti Pueblo Historic Pottery Storage Jar with Leather Reinforcements is from a Colorado collection

Recommended Reading:

A River Apart: The Pottery of Cochiti & Santo Domingo Pueblos by Valerie Verzuh, et al.

Relative Links: Southwest Indian Pottery, Cochiti Pueblo, Historic Pottery

Cochiti Pueblo Pottery Storage Jar, Circa 1885 AND Spanish Colonial Wooden Chest, Ortega Family Artist, Circa 1775-1795

Image: this Cochiti Storage Jar, ca. 1885 AND Spanish Colonial Wooden Chest, ca. 1775-1795