Specializing in Native American Crafts Since 1916

Native American Pottery

Native American pottery of the Southwest is an ancient art form practiced for thousands of years. The Anasazi, Hohokam, Mogollon, and Mimbres cultures of the early Southwest left many examples of Southwest pottery behind when they “disappeared” centuries ago. This great mystery which has eluded anthropologists for years was no mystery to the Native American Indians of the Southwest. They have long known that the ancients did not disappear, but simply moved and changed; their progeny becoming the Native American Pueblo Indians of today.

American Indian pottery today is largely Pueblo pottery, although Navajo pottery has made an important recent appearance in the art form. Acoma pottery, Hopi pottery, Santa Clara pottery, the pottery vessels of the San Ildefonso, Jemez, and Zia are the main sources of contemporary Native American pottery.

Native American Pottery

The Pueblo pottery maker’s art has changed little in the last two millennia. Fine Native American Indian pottery is still hand formed using clays that are collected locally. Like the people of New Mexico’s Acoma “Sky City”, creating traditional, thin walled Acoma pottery for generations. Vessels like traditional Hopi pottery are hand scraped, hand polished, hand slipped, and in most cases still fired in backyard kilns consisting of pottery shreds and manure. The cost of Southwest pottery reflects not only the great artistry, but also the time involved in creating each piece. From the first trek to gather the clay to the final piece cooled from the fire the Pueblo potter has invested weeks, and there are no guarantees in each phase that the clay will prove true or that the piece will not shatter in the firing, as often happens.

The colour, shape, and design of Native American pottery is influenced by the Pueblo’s culture. In the Southwest, pottery making is an heirloom passed from one generation to the next. Santa Clara pottery & San Ildefonso pottery is known for its black or red colour and high polish, a technique revived by Maria Martinez & her husband Julian. Acoma pottery is famous for thin walls and intricate painting. Hopi pottery with its sublime form, symbolic designs, and earth-toned slip is also world renowned.

At Cameron Trading Post, we are closest to the Hopi,bBut Hopi pottery is represented no more than Acoma pottery, Santa Clara pottery or any of the Navajo or Pueblo pottery of the Southwest. In the tradition of the Indian trading post, Cameron Trading Post endeavors to bring the Native American Indian pottery of all cultures together under one roof, offering a selection of Southwest pottery for the casual admirer or the serious collector of American Indian Pottery.

The artistry of American Indian pottery is recognized globally, names like Maria Martinez, Lucy Lewis, Fannie Nampeyo, Margaret Tafoya, Joy Navasie, and Helen Naha are known throughout the world. Pueblo pottery is collected avidly by people from all walks of life. Southwest pottery has an intrinsic beauty that speaks to the basic common humanity in all of us. A simple piece of Pueblo pottery from the tentative hand of a child first learning the art holds the knowledge of one hundred generations. Therein lies the soul of Native American Indian pottery of the Southwest.

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