Specializing in Native American Crafts Since 1916

Native American Pottery

Cameron Trading Post, open since 1916, is your online source for Native American pottery from artists from various tribes. Indeed, 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. Other types of pottery that you’ll see on our website include: 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. If you have any questions about our Native American pottery, please contact us here.

The History of 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 color, 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 and San Ildefonso pottery is known for its black or red color and high polish, a technique revived by Maria Martinez and 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. Please browse our Acoma pottery, Navajo etched pottery, Hopi pottery, historic pottery, horse hair pottery, and storytellers selections for beautiful and antique designs from artists from various Native American tribes.

Native American Pottery FAQs

How to identify Native American pottery?

To identify genuine Native American pottery, observe the shape, design, and materials which vary by tribe. Look for distinctive tribal symbols and motifs, and take a close look at the pot’s technique, such as hand coiling. Many pieces will have a signature to indicate what artist crafted it. Often older, antique works will show signs of wear. Consult books, online resources, or experts for verification, and be cautious of reproductions. If you have questions about identifying whether the pottery is made by a Navajo, Hopi, Pueblo, Acoma, or other artist, please don’t hesitate to contact Cameron Trading Post.

How is Native American pottery made?

Native American pottery is crafted using local clays, shaped through techniques like coiling or paddle-and-anvil. Once shaped, pots are often painted with natural pigments to depict tribal symbols and motifs. The pieces are then fired, either in kilns or open pits, solidifying and setting their form. The techniques and designs vary by tribe, reflecting their unique cultural influences and regional materials.

How to clean Native American Indian pottery vases?

To clean your pottery, use a soft, dry cloth or a soft brush to remove loose dust. If further cleaning is needed, dampen the cloth with distilled water and gently wipe the surface. Avoid using household cleaners or submerging the pottery in water. Always handle the pottery with care, as it can be fragile, and ensure it dries completely after cleaning to prevent moisture damage.

What does the mountain symbolize in Native American pottery?

In Native American pottery, the mountain often symbolizes the Earth’s foundation and the connection between the physical and spiritual realms. Mountains are revered as sacred places where one can gain spiritual insight and clarity. Their portrayal in pottery reflects the Native Americans’ respect for the land and the spiritual significance they attach to natural landmarks.

Shop Pottery Online with Cameron Trading Post!

At Cameron Trading Post, we are closest to the Hopi, but 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 and ceramics are 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 pottery of the Southwest in the Americas. If you’re looking for something other than pottery, check out our other Native American art here.

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