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An exceptionally beautiful and rare historic Hopi “double-polychrome” or two-slipped rectangular pottery bowl by Annie Nampeyo or Paqua Naha, c.1920-25

This piece is quite simply, a complete showstopper, a stunning visual delight, literally two pieces of pottery in one with beautifully separate yet distinctly related painted polychrome designs on different colored slip backgrounds. The use of double or two-color slips on the same piece of pottery and the use of two-color different design fields can be traced back to several ancient 14th Century Southwestern pottery types of White Mountain Redware which were made in the general vicinity of the present-day Hopi mesas such as Showlow Polychrome (1325-1400 A.D.) and Fourmile Polychrome (1300-1400 A.D.). There are also incidences of two-color slips appearing on a later Proto-historic Zuni Pueblo pottery type known as Hawikuh Polychrome (1630-1700 A.D.)

We discussed this extraordinary two-color slipped bowl at some length with the distinguished Hopi pottery authority, author and longtime former museum curator, Dr. Edwin L. Wade and in Dr. Wade’s opinion it dates to the early 1920’s and was made by either one of two outstanding Hopi potters, Annie Healing Nampeyo (1884-1968), the eldest daughter of Nampeyo of Hano or by Paqua Naha (1890-1955) who is also known as “Original Frogwoman.” Both of these artists established distinguished Hopi pottery-making dynasties which have lasted until today. Annie Nampeyo was an exceptionally skilled potter who learned from a very early age at her famous Mother’s knee and naturally she learned to make the two-color slipped pieces which Nampeyo pretty much re-invented or revived at Hopi in the early years of the 20th Century.

A two-color slipped polychrome pottery jar by Nampeyo, c. 1910

Courtesy Edwin L. Wade, Ph. D. collection

A “Show Low Polychrome” split-field pottery jar, Arizona, c. 1450 A.D.

Photo source and © Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX

A two-color slipped polychrome pottery jar by Nampeyo, c. 1905

Courtesy Fine Arts of the Southwest, Inc.

“Vessels created using this method have rarely been seen at Hopi. Of those few made, most, if not all, were the product of Nampeyo. The application consists of the use of a kaolin clay white slip which, in a reducing fire (caused by enveloping the vessel’s surface in pottery shards), results in a white to ivory surface. However, to achieve the red coloration requires adding hematite or iron to the slip, which is then fired uncovered in an oxidizing atmosphere and turns red due to the exposure

of the iron to the fire. A difficult procedure best left to the skill of a master potter.”

-Edwin L. Wade, Ph.D

Paqua Naha was also an extremely talented potter; a contemporary and friend of Nampeyo’s and the two potters worked in conjunction from time to time and sometimes made pieces in each others styles. Of course, this bowl was not signed by its maker since it was made at least a decade before some Hopi potters began signing their pottery in the 1930’s. Aesthetically and technically, this bowl is an outstanding achievement in every respect. The bowl is beautifully potted with even, symmetrical walls and a lovely profile that rises up from the base and expands nicely outwards at the mid-body up to the out-flaring rim. The potting, polishing and firing are all very well-executed, the painted designs on this bowl are done extraordinarily well, the red polychrome designs on either end and on both sides are rich and crisp and precise and the lovely design in the center of the yellow polychrome interior of the bowl is equally so. Note too the perfectly formed cut-out carrying handles on both ends of the bowl and how nicely the painted exterior designs there accentuate their form.

“This bowl is early 1920’s, possibly by Annie Nampeyo, but it could also be

an early Paqua Naha since she also used white outlining and solid motifs.”

-Edwin L. Wade, Ph.D

The bowl measures a very impressively-sized 10 1/2" in length, 7" in width and is 4 1/2" in height. It is in thoroughly excellent original condition particularly in light of its nearly a century of age. there are a few very slight nicks around the rim and a small abrasion mark here and there and some small amount of abrasion wear to the interior painted design, but there are no significant chips, no cracks and no restoration or overpainting in evidence under a thorough UV-light examination. For a nearly hundred year old Pueblo pottery vessel we would rate this condition as being a 9.8 to 9.9 out of 10.

In our 35-plus years of buying, selling and collecting historic Pueblo pottery we have only had two other double-slipped Hopi pieces both of which were made by Nampeyo and they are both pictured here. This bowl is a most unusual opportunity to acquire a most unusual and extraordinary historic pottery vessel, a fully-realized and superbly executed artistic masterpiece in every possible sense of the word.

Price $4,250

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Annie Healing Nampeyo

Paqua Naha