2019-18 Corrugated jar

Object ID:

Fannie Nampeyo, Nampeyo 3 (signed); painted by a daughter

4.9375" h X 5.75" w

Pot 2019-18 is the second corrugated pot in the collection that I believe was formed by Nampeyo and painted by a relative.  The other (2012-14) is not signed, but its size, form, design and quality of painting are very similar to the pot discussed here.  Generally corrugated pots signed “Nampeyo” are believed to have been formed by Nampeyo after she was functionally blind (about 1920) and painted and signed by a relative.  Appendix E discusses that history in some detail.

The walls of pot 2018-19 are unusually thick but even.  The inside of the short neck has been polished, as has a small external space below the lip.  Below is a corrugated surface with three rows of about 36 indentation. The top row is the most regular except that at one point the smooth band above seems to dip down and partially obliterates about four indentations.  Each band of corrugation varies in width as it encircles the jar.  At one point the lower band is so thin that it nearly disappears.

Below the corrugation a band of decoration about 1.75″ wide encircles the jar.  Above it are thick-over-thin  black framing lines and these are repeated below the decorative band,  but in reverse order. .  The decoration consists of black, red and stippled elements repeated (with minor variation) twice.  Let’s start with a vertical row of 6 black dots in an unpainted rectangle.  Immediately to the left are five vertical lines forming a four-lane “highway.”  Based on this highway are two black hills with a black triangle between them, the “clown” face often found on Nampeyo’s pottery. This design extends into an unpainted space whose left edge is curved.  Between this curve and a subsequent three-lane “highway” the area is solid black, forming an arch around the clown face.  Next is a complicated square area incorporating four design elements.  At the top right is a three-sided black box with its open side against the highway and its center unpainted.  Below it are two thick parallel  lines that are based on the highway and extend 0.625 ” into the panel, about as far as the open box.  Against the flat left wall of this space is a red element with two wave-like points that jut right.  Between this red form and the black elements to the right, the irregularly-shaped residual space is stippled black.

The next square panel is perhaps even more difficult to describe but begins with the now-familiar four-lane highway.  From roughly the top right corner to the bottom left corner of the space a curved line divides the panel.  The bottom half is itself divided by a three-lane highway.  To its right a black triangle fills the upper section of the space.  Below two half-moons with their flat sides against the right and left framing highways fill the edges of the space.  The bottom of this area is marked by only the thin lower framing line.  In one rendition of this space, the elements are fairly symmetrical, giving the central unpainted area the shape of a thick-waisted hourglass.  In the second rendition the base of the upper black triangle is not parallel with the framing lines but slopes down, obliterating the upper curve of the right half-moon.  Thus the residual unpainted “hourglass” in the center of this rendition  is not symmetrical but has a sloped upper edge.

Still in the space below the bisecting curved diagonal line, but to the left of the three-lane highway is a space incorporating two forms.  First is an unpainted curved hill with its base on the thin lower framing line.  The residual space is painted black and roughly forms an unsymmetrical triangle with curved sides, its base to the right against the three-lane highway and its thin point to the left.

Above the curved line that bisects this panel is a red triangle with its base against the upper framing line and its point jutting down. Against the left wall of this section are two black half moons with their flat  bases against the edge of the panel.  The residual space in this upper half of the panel is somewhat shaped like a check mark and is stippled.  The next area of design contains the strip of six black dots and begins the second rendition of design.

All of these elements of design are regularly seen on Hopi pottery. The pattern seen here is simply repetitious  with none of the tension of design or inner logic seen on pots painted by “Old Lady” Nampeyo.  The painting is competent and controlled, just not exciting to the eye.

The unusual spelling “NAMPEYUO” on the bottom of pot 2019-18 has a story to tell, as do the signatures “NAMpyuo” on the bottom of bowl 2012-25.  and the “Nempayo” on pot 2015-14.  Appendix E discusses signed Nampeyo pots, including this group with unusual spellings.  I suggest that these irregular signatures are attempts by the pots’ painters to translate the Hopi pronunciation of “Nampeyo” into english.  I believe that these spellings were done earlier (perhaps 1925 to about 1930) than pots carrying the standardized anglo spelling of “Nampeyo.”  The presence of the capital “E” in the spelling on pot 2019-18 and the block-letter handwriting indicate that daughter Fannie painted and signed this pot.

Purchase History:
Purchased on Ebay 9/22/19 from Emiliya Entcheva of Missoula, Montana. Previously the pot was part of the McGill Estate Collection (1932-1975) in Orange County, CA.