Very Large Ohkay Owingeh Black over Gray Storage Jar


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Pueblo Potter Unknown

The arrival of the Spaniards in the late 1500s had very little effect on pottery production at the pueblos in either shape or design, but by the 1700s, there were noticeable changes.  Still later, with the opening of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821 and the arrival of the transcontinental railroad in 1880, change became inevitable at pueblos located close to the non-Indian populations.


San Juan Pueblo, now Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, stuck to its original pottery traditions of simple undecorated utilitarian wares that were so beautiful in vessel shape and simple slipped surfaces highlighted by fire clouds.  Even today, a hundred years after the pueblo abandoned its traditional style for a more modern style to appeal to tourists and collectors, the beautiful undecorated wares of the pueblo are still capturing the eyes of collectors.


The pre-1900s vessels from Ohkay Owingeh were not as highly polished as today's blackware from the other Tewa pueblos, but the lack of severe polishing provided slight irregularities in the surface of a vessel from which the reflected light is pleasantly muted.  Most vessels were slipped with a deep red slip on the upper 2/3rd of the body, leaving the lower 1/3rd without slip.  The entire vessel was then polished, inside and out, to a hard finish.  The red-over-tan finished product was then fired—either in an oxidizing or reduction firing—from which would be obtained a red-over-tan or black-over gray finished product.


This large black-over-gray storage jar is from the late 19th century. It's a perfect example of Ohkay Owingeh pottery of the period.  The globular shape of the vessel, the short neck, and the rough but consistent polish are standard fare for the period.  Its size—16 inches in height by 20 inches in diameter—is visually impressive, but it's actually typical for an Ohkay Owingeh storage jar to be this large.  Most importantly, the vessel is gorgeous.  Its simplicity is its most striking attribute.  This is a perfect example of the very finest pottery produced by this pueblo.


Condition: Excellent condition for a piece of its age—minor abrasions and rim chips, signs of use at the pueblo

Provenance:  from the collection of Katherine H. Rust

Recommended ReadingPueblo Pottery of the New Mexico Indians: Ever Constant Ever Changing by Betty Toulouse



Pueblo Potter Unknown
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