2013-07 Three Bird Jar

The shape of this jar is a typical Nampeyo family form, with a short neck, a wide shoulder used for decoration, and the widest girth about 1/3 up from the bottom. The pot fired evenly and without much blush.

Three abstract birds parade around the pot’s shoulder. Two thin framing lines above a thicker line support these images and rest just under the widest girth of the vessel. Each of the three birds is different.

In his book reviewing Nampeyo’s aesthetic, Ed Wade provides a compendium of design elements used by “The Old Lady,” including bird forms. One of these Nampeyo birds is almost identical to one of the birds painted by Jean. Nampeyo frequently drew the body core of her animals using a mosaic of small squares (as on pot 2012-XX) or triangles (as shown in the Wade book) and Jean has adopted that convention on this first bird. The bird sails forward with her plumage swept back by the wind.

The remaining two birds seem to reflect what Wade calls Nampeyo’s “Acoma-style birds” (2012:234-235).

These creatures are more upright and less streamlined than the first bird. They are characterized by vertical necks toped by circular heads. On one, the elaborate body is painted using mostly black paint, with red highlights and an unfurled wing behind her head. The second Acoma-derived bird has a less-elaborately drawn body that is characterized by red feathers and a largely black breast area.

All three of the birds are spirited and exude personality.