New Mexican Clay Pottery From The Navajo Pueblo
Discover the rich heritage of the Pueblo People of New Mexico in their pottery. Many of the differences of the pots is in the clay. Every pueblo has it’s own clay, which could vary by area. Then there is the pueblo itself. Each pueblo has it’s own story, it’s own heritage, it’s own design, it’s own culture.
Each pueblo has it’s own style, which also makes the pots somewhat easy to distinguish from each other. The Navajo Pueblo, for example, are known for their beautiful terra cotta pots with painted bands of color with designs either etched or painted on the pots. There are some exceptions to this general rule. The Navajo were also known to assimilate with their neighbors culturally, more than most tribes. Because of this, they sometimes borrowed the styles from the pottery traditions of other pueblos, especially the cliff dwellers. This makes it difficult to determine certain pot styles of other groups unless signed.
A very eye catching historic style are the pots of the Hopi Pueblo. They are famous for their unfinished pottery that is most often painted with black and red. The designs are often of Eagles, Butterflies, or a beautiful migration of birds. This is a design that has remained somewhat distinguishable from other groups.
One traditional aspect of Pueblo Pottery is that it is never separated from it’s intended use. Pots were decorated to look nice, but they were not for decoration. In fact, there are 500 Native American languages and not one has a word for art or even the concept of things being art. Their pots were to use, not to sit around on shelves.
Pueblo Pottery is one of the most well known traditions of the modern Native American Tribes. But generally, when it is bought by those outside the tribe, it then becomes art. How many times have you seen one of their beautiful pots, designed for use in the home, on a display shelf in the living room?
As you travel through the Southwest, be sure to enjoy the skilled craftsmanship of New Mexico’s Pueblo potters. In their pottery, you will discover the uniqueness of each one, see where it comes from and learn to identify the work of the different Pueblo Peoples. Each has an unfinished story to tell.
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