2005-16 Classic Low-Shouldered Eagle-Tail Jar (ca. 1905)

Object ID:

Nampeyo 1 (unsigned)


3.75" h X 8.00" w

The pot has been slipped with the same clay used for the body and the slip is blushed and has crackled in spots.

There are many published photographs of jars with similar eagle-feather design that are documented or attributed to Nampeyo. This pot has one of the most simplified designs of any of the published photographs I have seen, especially in the treatment of the design immediately above the four groupings of the red-filled feathers. Two published jars by Nampeyo are most like 2005-16. First, a jar in the collection of Dennis and Janis Lyon is dated 1906 and has very similar feather and tail elements to be 2005-16, though the Lyons jar is larger. The caption of the Lyons jar notes that “….Nampeyo never signed any of her pieces…But a jar such as this is obviously Nampeyo. The eagle tail design is one of her most sought after by collectors, but they are rather difficult to find and (are) highly prized (Heard Museum, 2004:77, also see Streuver, 2001:28).”

Second, an eagle tail jar formerly in the collection of Jo Mora is shown in Struever, (2001:102) that and is dated 1900-1905, although the wing elements of the Mora jar are heavier. than on 2005-16. The two simple lines off the corners of the central square red design of 2005-16 (and hence at the apex of the four recurved wings) are not common. A similar eagle tail pot with this design element, though more elaborate, is shown in Robert Ashton (1976: 26).

Of all the Nampeyo pots in this collection, jar 2005-16 best represents the fully-developed Sikyatki Revival aesthetic that marks Nampeyo as “genius” and made her famous. (Though also see especially 2002-03 and 2010-11.)

Appendix C is an essay that measures the design of jar 2005-16 against other Nampeyo pottery, both in this collection and not. Such a review allows us to define six design strategies that mark the full flowering of Nampeyo’s aesthetic:

1) A tension between linear and curvilinear elements, often represented as a contrast between heavy and delicate elements;
2) A deliberate asymmetry of design;
3) The use of color to integrate design elements;
4) The use of empty (negative) space to frame the painted image; and
5) The use of a thick above a thin framing line on the interior rim of her bowls.
6) Nampeyo’s painting is confident, bold, and somewhat impulsive compared to the more-studied, plotted and careful style of her daughters, descendents and other Hopi and Hopi-Tewa potters.

All six of these strategies are fully-developed on jar 2005-16.

For the extended discussion of Nampeyo’s style and jar 2005-16, see Appendix C.

The design on 2005-16 is derived from an old Jeddito design, several variations of which were excavated by the Awatovi expedition in the 1930s from a refuse talus at the ancestral Hopi village of Kawaika-a (Watson, 2005:176 and 177, fig 10, p, q and r). These excavations occurred a quarter of a century after Nampeyo made 2005-16; her inspiration must have been other Jeddito pots excavated earlier.

Purchase History:
Purchased on 8/16/05 on eBay from William T. Moore, Stuart, FL. In 1964 or 1965, Bill was living in San Antonio and working as a “picker,” buying items at flea markets, yard sales, and auctions, and reselling them to dealers or at flea markets. He attended an estate sale or auction in Austin and “bought a box of Native American pottery and some rugs…I think I paid about $[x] for 5 pots,” which included 2005-16. “The things I liked a bunch went on my shelf or wall with the thought that they could be sold after the newness wore off. Most of my Indian [items] I liked so much I hated to part with any item. But now is the time….Glad [pot 2005-16] will find a home with those who care.”