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An extraordinary and completely unique

historic Hopi Payupki/Polacca Polychrome Type “A”

very large pottery bowl c. 1780–1800

Let’s get right to the heart of the matter. This bowl is as rare as something can possibly ever be; because it’s the only complete one of its type known in existence, anywhere in the world, so it's unbelievably, almost impossibly unique. A “Holy Grail” of sorts of historic Native American art, you could even say. And while there are a number of historic Pueblo pottery types that are quite rare but not any great shakes artistically this type most definitely is not one of those. In fact to the exact opposite, this is one of the very highest high-water marks in terms of exceptional beauty and quality in the long and distinguished thousand-plus year history of Hopi pottery.

 This bowl is also amazingly and uncommonly large and knock-down drag out gorgeous. Over the years, we have been privileged to have owned some of the finest historic Pueblo pottery vessels in existence and especially Hopi ones. Some forty or fifty of these pieces are now in the collections of prominent museums across the country and around the world and many others are held in significant private collections. We can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that this particular bowl is in the very top five of all of these outstanding pottery pieces we have ever had.

“In my experience, which is long and extensive, this bowl is the only intact piece of transitional Payupki/Polacca Polychrome ware I have seen. It is in remarkable condition for a vessel 240 years old, particularly given the turbulence of those years for Hopi, with outbreaks of pandemic diseases, droughts, and Navajo incursions.”

-Edwin L. Wade, Ph.D

Copyright 2010-2020 Fine Arts of the Southwest, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or use is strictly prohibited.

The ink was barely dry on The Declaration of Independance when this bowl was being made some 2200 miles to the West on a dusty

windswept mesa top in what would eventually well over a century later be known as the Hopi Reservation in the State of Arizona.

Photo source and  © Wikipedia

”Both intellectually and aesthetically, it is thrilling

to know such a magnificent object exists.”

-Historic Hopi pottery scholar, Edwin L. Wade, Ph.D.

As you can read in the detailed scholarly analysis written by Edwin L. Wade, Ph.D, who is currently the world’s pre-eminent expert on historic Hopi pottery, this bowl is a Hopi transitional Payupki Polychrome to Polacca Polychrome Type “A” piece dating from the last two decades of the 18th century to the very start of the 19th, from around 1780-1800 A.D. To read the complete write-up by Dr. Wade please click here. The signed original copy of Dr. Wade’s write-up on his personal letterhead will be included in the sale of this bowl. Other than the remarkable fact that it exists at all, the most noteworthy aspects of this bowl are its extraordinarily large size, its incredibly striking and elaborately painted designs and its exceptionally fine original condition particularly so given its 200-plus years of age which is basically everything one could ever ask for or expect from a world-class historic artwork.

The bowl measures an incredibly impressive 15 1/4” in diameter and is 6 1/2” in height and it is in remarkable original condition with a couple of good-sized stable cracks. There is no restoration or overpainting in evidence anywhere on the bowl under a thorough Ultraviolet light examination. Compare this condition with the photo of the fragmentary Polacca A bowl pictured in Dr. Wade’s write-up held in the collection of the American Museum of Natural History,

one of the only other few known examples of this type.

Rarity, no matter how exalted is only one part of the grand art equation however; beauty, quality and condition are the other determining factors of greatness and this bowl delivers all of these in spades. The polychrome painted designs are extraordinarily well conceived and precisely executed. They consist of a complex diagonally-oriented four-part arrangement of terraced and stylized feather designs revolving around a center four-part diamond shaped motif and they are extremely sophisticated and incredibly dynamic visually with a great sense of motion. These diagonally oriented motifs come from and are characteristic of the Payupki polychrome pottery, c. 1675-1700 tradition at Hopi,

a somewhat short-lived but visually and historically remarkable tradition of which this bowl is an significant part of but was situated at the very end of this tradition. Payupki Polychrome (1680-1780)n is an essentially non-Hopi pottery tradition that was introduced to Hopi by refugees from the Rio Grande Pueblos in New Mexico such as Zia, fleeing to Hopi for refugee from the Spanish during the strife and upheaval of the great Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

“The (Payupki Polychrome) tradition was heavily influenced by late seventeenth and

eighteenth century Keresan ceramics from Rio Grande communities like Zia Pueblo.”

-Edwin L. Wade, Ph.D.

Quotation source and © “America’s Great Lost Expedition, The Thomas Keam Collection of Hopi Pottery

from the Second Hemenway Expedition, 1890-1894”, pp. 43, The Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ, 1980

The exterior dark brown patinated outer surface of the bowl is also well worth noting, it is every bit as interesting and beautiful as the interior, with a simply marvelous rich patina from extended handling over the past two and a half centuries. This remarkable bowl is a profound and magnificent world-class masterpiece in every possible way, the “Mona Lisa” of historic Pueblo pottery so to speak, every bit as unique and certainly every bit as rare as Leonardo’s masterwork. And now you can be the only person on your entire planet to own one.

Price available upon request


View of Walpi Village on the Hopi First Mesa, 1911

Photos source and © Leo Crane Collection, Cline Library, Northern Arizona University

Above are pictured several examples of historic Hopi pottery pieces which are very closely related to this Payupki/Polacca “Type A” bowl. At top row center is a Polacca Type “A” polychrome jar, c. 1780-1820, that was very possibly made by the very same potter who made this bowl. The design similarities, motifs and zoning and the appearance of the artist’s “hand” are remarkably similar. The bottom row contains three different examples of earlier Payupki Polychrome jars, c. 1680-1780.  Note the more orangeish—colored base clay color of these vessels.

Top row center photo source and ©  Thomas Varker Keam Collection, Peabody Museum, Harvard University. Bottom row photos source and  ©  as follows: Left and right photo source and © Edwin L. Wade, “America’s Great Lost Expedition, The Thomas Keam Collection of Hopi Pottery from the Second Hemenway Expedition, 1890-1894” pp.42-43, The Heard Museum, Phoenix, AZ, 1980. Center photo source and © Alamy Stock Photos