2009-24 Sikyatki Revival Helmet/Stew Bowl Formed in Basket

Object ID:


3.129” h X 10.5” w (irregular)

The interior flared rim of the bowl is decorated with eight panels of design separated by three vertical lines. Each panel is divided into two triangular sections by a diagonal line. Below the line another triangle encloses unpainted surface of the pot. This image is surrounded by red that fills the remaining area below the panel diagonal. Above this diagonal is a stepped black design; inserted into the remaining space is a typical Hopi-Tewa design formed by two triangles and a line. This latter image is missing from one panel. If one imagines a clock face with this simplier panel place at the “12” position, it seems that the panels were painted in a counter-clockwise order, with the last (top) panel squeezed into the remaining smaller space. In this last panel the blank area above the black steps was apparently too small to incorporate the triangle/line element. The overall design has one thin framing line at the top and two below the design band. The irregular width of the panels and the irregularity of design within the panels give this bowl a strong folk art sensibility that I find enormously appealing.

Bowl 2009-24 was formed in a basket with at least nineteen coils. As a result, the bowl (like most baskets) is irregular and out-of-round. There are several other bowls in the collection that were formed in baskets. (See “Utility Pots” in the Category List for a list of basket-formed bowls.) Bowl 2009-24 is the only example I know of with a painted decoration. Only one other bowl in the collection is basket-impresed to the rim (see 2005-08 by Polingaysi Qoyawayma/Elizabeth White). The other basket-impressed pots in the collection have clay coils added to build up the pot height. Forming bowls in a basket is a technique at least 1,000 years old. The exterior of the bowl 2009-24 is clearly blushed, as is typical of Hopi pottery.

The bowl rings with an unusually high pitch when lightly struck with a finger. This is due to having been fired at an unusually hot fire. For bowls made recently this is an indication of having been fired in a kiln, which gives pots a uniform (often white) look without blushings. (See 1999-09b and 2009-16.) I have heard that such kiln-fired pots may be blushed with a blow torch after firing. Given the casual design, irregular shape and basket-impressed bottom of the bowl 2009-24, I think it is more likely that coal was added to the firing of bowl 2009-24, thus creating a hotter fire and a harder clay body.

Purchase History:
Purchased on 11/16/09 on eBay from Russell Pickering of Poulsbo, Washington. The other pot that was part of this purchase is not in the collection. The woman who originally collected them was a noted philanthropist and world traveler from Seattle but there is no specific provenance for these pots. Russell Pickering is selling them for her estate: “The family has been very adamant about privacy.”