Historic Polychrome Jar with Hopi/Zuni Designs

Item: 941

Origin: Hopi
Date:  First half of the 19th Century

Media: Clay with slip

Dimensions: 7.75″ diameter, 6″ tall

Description:   This is a particularly beautiful jar, in many ways. The shape of a rotund base easing slowly up to a pronounce neck is pleasing to the eye. The painted shapes are both wonderful and curious. There are two sets of figures, incorporating a double spiral nesting a triangular motif finished off at the top with a pair of wings. One on side, these wings are painted in deep red. The top decoration just below the rim includes a simple band, topped by an undulating band of hills marching all the way around. Finally, the rich patina as well as the wear presents a jar that has been well used and yet preserved all these years. A native repair to secure a crack going from the rim into the body adds to the unique beauty of this piece.

This jar was originally purchased from the Adobe Gallery many years ago. The description they have is copied here:

There was a period in the late 1700s and early 1800s when many Hopi left the mesas and migrated to their nearest Pueblo neighbor – the Zuni. This migration was the result of drought, disease, crop failure and other disasters. Many of them stayed at Zuni for 20 or more years and it was during this time that the Hopi women were exposed to designs on Zuni pottery. When they returned to their homeland, they brought with them the memories of these pottery designs.

The Hopi potters were very creative and talented artists so it was not in their best interest to copy Zuni pottery designs but to use those designs they saw and experiment with expanding them to enhance their pottery. In the period 1820 -1860, we see many Hopi pottery vessels with Zuni-inspired designs.

This jar, fashioned from Hopi clay, was decorated with Hopi and Zuni inspired designs. The capped spirals on the body are Zuni influenced but what looks like a soaring bird’s wings is directly from Hopi Sikyatki pottery – a classic example of a potter selecting designs she felt worked together and fit the shape of the jar she had made. This jar probably dates to the period when the Hopi returned to the mesas in the early to mid 1800.

Condition: A native repair has drilled small holes into the body to insert a wire that tightens the space around a crack that runs down from the rim to the body. Abrasions and scuffs cover the surface. The base has lost a section of the red paint as all the years of rubbing on the base supporting it have contributed to this loss.


Price: SOLD

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