Well-Used Zuni Pueblo Historic Polychrome Pottery OLLA

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Pueblo Potter Unknown
  • Category: Historic
  • Origin: Zuni Pueblo, SHE-WE-NA
  • Medium: clay, pigments
  • Size: 9" height x 10-¾” diameter
  • Item # C4444D
  • Price: $3,850.00

Alternate view showing the top rim and shoulder wear of this jar.

This historic polychrome pottery OLLA was created over 100 years ago by an unknown Zuni Pueblo artist.  It is a fine example of functional Zuni pottery, with a wear pattern suggesting heavy use.  The jar’s rim is worn, somewhat heavily on one side and lightly on the opposite side.  Its bottom is scuffed, and its exterior shows the sort of light pattern of wear and abrasion that we would expect of a piece like this. Fortunately, the pottery jar was not subjected to any structural damage during its years in collections and on the market, so there is no repair or restoration to report.  We are always pleased to find historic jars like this one, with visible history of use but no significant damage.

As far as form and design, this is a classic Zuni Pueblo water jar.  Zuni designs are among the most distinctive, and the variations seen here work beautifully.  There are two separate design bands, with a slim band extending from the shoulder to the rim and a wider band extending down from the shoulder.  

Each of the design bands uses the intricate but graceful designs that are typical of Zuni wares of this era.  The upper band’s design repeats four times, and the wider lower band’s design repeats twice, centering around two large rosette or medallion designs.  These designs, which resemble flowers, first appeared on Zuni pottery around 1870.  They may have been influenced by carved sunflowers on wooden chests brought to New Mexico or made locally by New Mexican furniture makers. This particular example is lively and elaborate, which seems fitting for such a well-used utilitarian pottery jar.


Condition: excellent condition—wear from use, but no significant damage, no restoration or repair

Provenance: this Well-Used Zuni Pueblo Historic Polychrome Pottery OLLA is from the collection of Susan McGreevy, former director of the Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe, and author of several books.

Reference: The Pottery of Zuni Pueblo by Lanmon & Harlow [2008:153]

Close up view of the side panel designs.
Pueblo Potter Unknown
  • Category: Historic
  • Origin: Zuni Pueblo, SHE-WE-NA
  • Medium: clay, pigments
  • Size: 9" height x 10-¾” diameter
  • Item # C4444D
  • Price: $3,850.00

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