2011-03 Miniature Siitalpuva Bowl with Butterflies, Mesas and Water

Object ID:
2011-03

Artist:
Dawn Navasie

Dimensions:
3.5” h X 2.5” w

This is a gem of a miniature pot. Bulbous at the bottom, it has a narrow waste that flares out to a trumpet-shaped mouth. The inside is slipped with yellow clay (that turns red when fired) and the interior has been stone-polished almost to the bottom. The shape and polished interior give the pot an exceptionally elegant look.

The lower band of the exterior has a pattern of four panels of design, each containing the same three motifs. One motif is polychromatic, with red triangles framing a black central area that has had wavy lines scratched into its surface. The other two motifs in each panel have backgrounds painted black with designs emerging from the unpainted surface. The painting is careful but not perfect; the slight variances give the overall design additional energy.

The upper portion of the exterior is the “Siitalpuva” design made famous by Grace Chapella and her descendants. (See pot 2010-22 for an interpretation of this design.) The full design (butterfly, mesas and water) is repeated twice. Each rendition is almost an exact copy of the other, with only very minor variation. Normally such exactness does not appeal to my eye, but that is not the case here. Perhaps the cuteness factor of the miniature size, the energy of the design or the contrast with the less-exact lower band of design ameliorates the perfection of the siitalpuva band. I am not sure.

Like Nampeyo, Dawn uses red elements on the exterior to unify the exterior designs and tie this exterior to the solid red interior that is emphasized by the trumpet-shaped mouth. The jar has great visual impact. Seen in a photograph without a size reference, the jar seems monumental. Held in the palm of a hand, the shape and painting seem like a tour-de-force on a small canvass.

Purchase History:
Purchased on 2/9/11 on eBay from Tony Moorehead of San Diego. Pot 2011-03 was “Fresh from a local estate of a college professor with a large Native American pottery collection.” [Receipt on file.] Pot 2011-04 is from the same estate.