1991-03 Large Underfired Jar with Eagle-Tail Design

Object ID:
1991-03

Artist:
Nellie Nampeyo

Culture:
Corn Clan, Polacca, Tewa

Dimensions:
5.75" h X 7.75" w

Hopi jar, a variation of the traditional “eagle-feather” Sikyatki/Nampeyo design by Nellie Nampeyo Douma (born 1896; died 1978), one of “Old Lady” Nampeyo’s three daughters. Nellie can do more delicate and balance work (see 1993-02), though Rick Dillingham comments that “I don’t know much by Nellie that was very good. Most are heavy and casually painted.” For a pot presumably formed by her mother and painted (and signed) by Nellie, see 2003-07. For a Nellie pot in Rick’s collection, see Dillingham (1994:59).

Pot 1991-03 is thick asymmetrical, fired at a low temperature (and therefore gray), with awkward painting and a carbon fire cloud. Made about 1960. Yet, the jar has a basic sense of power and presence that is missing from more perfect pots made by many current potters. For a picture of Nellie (and two of her pots), see Barsook (1974: 30). Perhaps the light color of the fired clay was intentional. The Seven Families book quotes Nellie as saying “The whitish color to my pottery is from the way I fire it (Barsook, 1974:30).”

Purchase History:
Purchased on 5/16/91 at Garland’s Indian Jewelry, in Sedona. In July 2018 I visited Garland's Jewlery and spoke with Dan Garland, owner of the shop and son of Bill Garland who began the business. He told me that about 1986 or 1987 his father had purchased the Hopi pottery collection of Tom O. Mills, for four years the Anglo manager of the Second Mesa Cultural Center on the reservation, who was retiring and selling his collection. Jar 1991-03 and other Hopi pots I purchased about that time from the store were from the Mills collection.