1988-01 Redware Bowl with Man Eagle Design

Object ID:

Nampeyo 1 (unsigned)

Corn Clan, Tewa, Tewa Village

3.50" h X 9.625" w

Hopi redware bowl, Nampeyo, circa 1915. Double-bird design with two black framing bands. Notice that the placing of the wings of the two birds is different, indicating a certain spontaneity of design. A 1993 estimate by Rick Dillingham dates the bowl at 1910-1915 and adds that it was painted either by Nampeyo or by her daughter Annie. A 1988 description by Dillingham describes “Old Lady” Nampeyo as both potter and painter. [See Dillingham evaluations in my file.] Note that Nampeyo changed her mind about adding a line on the left-hand bird. Design is a reinterpretation by Nampeyo of an old Sikyatki “Man-eagle/Thunderbird” figure design. See Fewkes (1973:59 and 129) for a discussion of the Sikyatki design. The original design had a central body core and what Nampeyo drew as two separate birds were originally the wing elements of a single abstract bird figure. The 1993 comment by Dillingham notes that “the redware was popular in the time period mentioned (1910-1915) and was done by a number of potters. It enjoys a revival today with many potters working in yellow (it fires red) clay. The shallow bowl is typical of Nampeyo, patterned after Sikyatki found nearby.” The body of this pot is made from yellow (fires red) clay; it is not just yellow clay (red) slipped. Since the yellow clay is difficult to work, this is unusual.

In July 1997 Barbara Kramer examined and appraised the bowl for me and wrote:

“Early in her career at the turn of the century, Nampeyo’s eldest daughter, Annie Healing, frequently painted black or black-and-white designs on red-slip vessels. The shape of the vessels and the painting of the designs identify those unsigned vessels as her work. However, after studying all of my photographs of vessels made by both Nampeyo, Hopi-Tewa potter ca. 1960-192, and her daughter, Annie, I am confident that the bowl was made and painted by Nampeyo for the following reasons: The shape is typical of Nampeyo bowls; Annie’s were shallower and not as deeply rounded. The design of the birds is painted impulsively and confidently; Annie’s painting is more studied and more delicate. I believe that the design of two birds, beak-to-beak was originally Annie’s design, but by 1912, Nampeyo and Annie were sharing motifs. The birds of this design completely fill the interior space, indicating Nampeyo’s bolder hand. The bowl has the character of Nampeyo’s work about 1915.”

Several other pots in my collection use variation of the “man-eagle” design. For another “man-eagle” bowl that was made by Nampeyo and painted by Annie, see 2006-01. See the “Man Eagle” section in the Category List for a complete listing of pots in this collection that use variations of this design.

Purchase History:
“633 Ryan-Berbec” is painted as a label on the bottom of the Nampeyo piece. A note that came with the bowl reads “Collected by Mr. Ryan partner of C. G. Wallace - Zuni Trading Post - Zuni, N.M.” C.G Wallace ran the trading post at Zuni from 1918 to about 1968. I traded this piece on August 18, 1988 for a circa. 1910 Laguna pot that I bought in 1973 at a flea market in Newport, RI.