1985-01 Seed Jar

Object ID:

Nampeyo 3 (signed); painted by a daughter

Corn Clan, Tewa, Tewa Village

2.75" h X 5.625" w

Hopi seed jar, Nampeyo (ca. 1860-1942), probably painted by a relative in the 1930s. (2.75” h X 5.625” w) There is an early Nampeyo signature on the bottom.

By about 1920, Nampeyo was largely blind. A photograph of Nampeyo and Fannie taken at about the time this pot was made is found in Arizona Highways (1974:16). A contemporary reference to Fannie painting her Mother’s pots can be found in Bartlett (1936:96): “Today she (Nampeyo) is an old woman nearly blind. Much pottery is still sold under her name, and though she does mold some of it, it is decorated by her daughter Fanny Polacca, who is a master artist like her mother.”  However not all pots signed “Nampeyo” from this period were painted or signed by Fannie and, in spite of the comments that follow, this pot was probably painted and signed by a different relative. For a history of such signatures, see Appendix E.

According to Michael Stanislawski et al. (1976:51-52), Fannie Nampeyo was one of the first potters to sign work, marking pottery shaped by her Mother and painted by her “Nampeyo-Fannie.” (A similar story is told by Collins, 1974.).

As suggested by Rick Dillingham when he sold me the pot and appraised the piece (appraisal on file), this pot was probably painted (and signed) by Fannie, but does not directly indicate her contribution. The simple designation “Nampeyo” on the bottom thus claims a relationship to “Old Lady” Nampeyo and serves a commercial function very much like the old Harvey stickers that proclaimed “Nampeyo Hopi Pottery.” (For such a Harvey label, see 2010-20.)

For a discussion of signed “Nampeyo” pots, see Kramer (1996:134 and 163). For a similar discussion, see the Blairs (1999:153 and 168).  There are a dozen other signed “Nampeyo” pots in the collection; Fannie contributed to only some of them.

Purchase History:
Purchased in August 1985 from Rick Dillingham, Mudd-Carr Gallery.