2006-01 Bowl with Rim Coil and Man-Eagle Design

Object ID:
2006-01

Artist:
Nampeyo 2 (unsigned); painted by a daughter

Culture:
Hopi

Dimensions:
3.25" h X 9.25" w

This bowl has a variation of the “man eagle” (Kwatoko) design floated on the clay body, rim dots and a simple exterior design, circa 1910-1912 (?). The extra rim coil suggests that the pot was formed by Nampeyo; design elements indicate it was probably painted by her daughter Annie. The pot was cracked in two and repaired more than 30 years ago. There are fire-blushing marks and a burn mark on the bottom where the fire touched the pot.

It is tempting to attribute any old, well-made pot to Nampeyo, though (as discussed in reference to 2002-03) any such attribution must remain speculative. The Blairs (1999:91) describe how “Most (of her) bowls were finished with a lip very nearly unique to Nampeyo.” Characteristic of this lip is the extra coil of clay seen on 2006-01. There is general agreement among scholars and collectors that the Blair’s analysis is correct, suggesting that 2006-01 was formed by “The Old Lady.”

Attributing the painting is less certain. The splotchy red paint indicates a production date before 1930. Rim dots were not used on Polacca ware and seem to have used for only a brief period at the start of the 20th century. According to Ed Wade, “The black four-directional ticking… was an early Nampeyo adaptation of a San Bernardo Polychrome convention.” Examples include Nampeyo pots in the ca. 1901 photograph of “Pottery Drying” by Curtis (See Blair, 1999:156; original print, on file). Several of the bowls collected by George Pepper in 1903 (Blair, 1999:85) show rim dots. Some of these pots were by Nampeyo. Sotheby’s sold a circa 1900 bowl attributed to Nampeyo with rim dots. [Photo on file.] Hayes and Blom (Southwestern Pottery, p. 67) show a 7” bowl with rim dots that they date to 1905. (My thanks to Dwight Williams for pointing me to some of this information.)

My records contain copies of an exchange of letters between the Fred Harvey Company and the Museum of Northern Arizona concerning a collection of older Hopi pottery that was displayed for many years in the Fray Marcos Hotel in Williams, Arizona (Bartlett, 1955). In a 1942 letter, Herman Schweizer of the Harvey Co. wrote Harold Colton of the MNA that “the pieces in the Williams House were part of [Nampeyo’s] pottery which we started to buy as early as 1901 when we established the Indian Building here [in Albuquerque].” Thirteen years later, C.E. Hoyland of the Harvey Co. was less sure of the attribution: “There is some question in our minds as to whether these could definitely be catalogued as Nampeyo, but to the best of our knowledge, they are from the Voltz Collection, which was purchased by Fred Harvey about 1908.” Four of these eleven bowls have rim dots. This documentation indicates they were probably made before 1908 and after 1901. Other than 2006-01, the only pots in the collection with rim dots were painted by Annie in the period 1910 to 1912 (see 1994-02 and 1997-04).

In short, based on the rim dots, a production date for 2006-01 of 1901-1912 would seem likely. If this is true, the pot was most likely painted by either Nampeyo or her daughter Annie. No other daughter was old enough to do the work.

I tentatively believe that Annie—not her mother—was the painter.

First, the design on 2006-01 is more delicate and balanced than might be expected of Nampeyo’s work. Bowl 1988-01 in the collection is both formed and painted by Nampeyo, with a similar “man eagle” design that lacks a central core. (For other pots in the collection with versions of the man-eagle design, see the Category List.) Although both bowls have an uncluttered background that is characteristic of Nampeyo, the overall design on 2006-01 is both more intricate and more delicate than the design on 1988-01. This balance and lightness of design is more characteristic of Annie than of her mother. According to Barbara Kramer (see attribution letter for 1988-01), Annie is known to have painted versions of this man-eagle design. Kramer (1996:75) reprints a photograph taken by Matteson showing Annie with two such bowls, but the image is too small for me to distinguish any detail. Describing this photograph, Kramer writes, “At the time of Matteson’s photograph (1895-1900?), Annie would have been in her teens and still maturing as a potter. She is pictured holding a seed jar painted with two birds, beak-to-beak at a trumpet-shaped flower. Another small jar with a similar design is on the floor in the foreground. This simple concept of double bird and flower motif was painted with variations… at later dates. I suggest that it was Annie’s design and that vessels decorated with the motif were her vessels (Kramer, 1996:168).” The design on 2006-01 fits Kramer’s description of Annie’s design. In short, the delicacy of painting and the form of the design combine with my estimate of the pot’s age to suggest that Nampeyo formed the pot and Annie painted it. Four other pots in the collection were probably the product of this Nampeyo/Annie collaboration: 1996-05, 1997-04, 2000-07, and 2002-09.

However, my attribution is far from certain. A bowl in the Dennis and Janis Lyon’s collection has a design that is somewhat similar to the design on 2006-01 but the Lyons design is more delicately designed and painted than 2006-01. After a discussion very similar to the one here, Lyons also concludes that the painting on his bowl is by Annie:
———-

Nampeyo had depicted this design–abstracted Sikyatki bird-like forms that are most likely hummingbirds and morning-glory type flower designs–earlier in her potting career, but the painting of this particular design was not as sophisticated and had a totally different look from the one seen here. This is one of the reasons for the attribution of the date on this piece (1920’s). It needs to be made clear, however, that Nampeyo was a fine designer and pottery decorator; it’s just that this jar is painted in a different style. Probably the only person available at this time who might have painted this pot in this accomplished style is her talented daughter, Annie Healing.”
(Heard Museum 2004:77)
———-

Unfortunately I do not discern “a totally different look” between this design when painted by Nampeyo or Annie. There are degrees of difference in the design and painting, but I am unsure what degree of difference confirms mother or daughter as the painter.

A very similar plate attributed to Nampeyo and Annie was for sale by Len Woods Indian Art [photograph on file]. In 2008, Adobe Gallery had another similar bowl for sale that they attributed entirely to Nampeyo, but I would judge that Annie was the painter [photograph on file]. A shallow bowl with a very similar design to 2006-01 was sold by Dennis Auction Service on 11/28/08. Unattributed, it looks like it was painted by the same hand as the bowl in this collection. [Photograph on file.] In short, I find it difficult to distinguish weather Nampeyo or her daughter were the painters of bowl
2006-01, but tentatively think Nampeyo was the maker and Annie the painter. If more examples of this design by Nampeyo and Annie become known, my attribution might change or become more definitive.

According to Kramer, the earliest vessel that can be attributed directly to Annie is dated 1912. Thus (like bowl1996-05), bowl 2006-01 may be one of those interesting bowls that was formed by Nampeyo and painted by Annie and sold as simply by Nampeyo:


“Annie was Nampeyo’s silent but visible partner. She had inherited her mother’s quiet temperament and the two worked side by side… At the turn of the century, (Nampeyo) was making pots that she set outside her house on a rug for visitors to buy, and when her eldest daughter began potting too, Nampeyo set Annie’s out on the rug along with her own. When visitors purchased the work of either, the name ‘Nampeyo’ was attached to the vessel.”
(Kramer 1996:161-162)

This may be the first time that bowl 2006-01 has been identified as the joint product of mother and daughter.

Purchase History:
Purchased on 1/18/06 from Dale Anderson of Manhattan, KS. The eBay photographs do not include an angled shot of the rim area; the extra coil indicative of Nampeyo’s hand was not discovered until the pot was delivered. Dale Anderson wrote “I bought it at a yard sale… in Manhattan, Kansas…. It was broken and repaired when I purchased it. I have had it I would guess 30 years. The old lady’s [!] name was Hill (last name). The family was selling and closing the home. The collector (Mrs. Hill) was approx. 90 years old. The writing was on the bottom at that time. Sorry this is all I have on it.”