ipl Pueblo Pottery Gallery

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Puname PueblosZia Pueblo
Santa Ana Pueblo

Zia Pueblo

zia pueblo pot 1 - zia pueblo pot 2 - water jar decorated in trios polychrome

Description by Larry Frank

Zia Pueblo, in north-central New Mexico, has maintained its tradition as a leader in the production of excellent ceramics, continuing the finest of the time honored features in a sequence of styles that show virtually no European influence and little curio-market degeneracy. Matte-paint styles of Pueblo pottery decoration originated late in the seventeenth century, replacing an earlier glazeware tradition. The first type is know an Puname Polychrome (1680-1740), while its descendant, San Pablo Polychrome, bears an old Spanish name for the pueblo of Zia. As at most other pueblos during this period the designer of pottery were much preoccupied with the feather symbol. At Zia, especially, this sacred motif was painted on almost every surviving eighteen-century vessel in various modifications. Until about 1765 all these vessels were endowed with one feature that is particularly useful for dating purposes: The rim top was always painted red. After that date, during the last three decades of San Pablo Polychrome and thereafter, the rim tops of Zia vessels have always been painted black.

Santa Ana Pueblo

santa ana pot 1 - water pot with typical irregular design in redsanta ana pot 2 - water jar with cloud, leaf, rain symbolssanta ana pot 3 - water jar with design executed in red and black

The divergence of Santa Ana vessels from the pottery of Zia was not apparent until after about 1720 when Ranchitos Polychrome became the first type to have unmistakable Santa Ana characteristics. The type often resembles San Pablo Polychrome from neighboring Zia, some of the jars having very short necks that are not decorated and bearing similar motifs and the mid body. Apparently, however, Ranchitos Polychrome never has isolated red arcs in the decoration as at Zia. The transition from red to black rim tops occurred about 1765, a conclusion that is based on evidence from sherds as Las Huertas.

By about 1790, the style of Santa Ana decoration began to depart so strongly from that of Zia that recognition is usually easy even when the paste is not clearly visible. Especially characteristic are massive areas of red in the decoration, embellished by the inclusion of negative elements. These are unpainted areas within the red, usually in the shape of crescendo or semicircles.

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