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SANTA FE  NEW MEXICO

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A rare, historic Santo Domingo Pueblo, NM polychrome pottery four-directions reflecting bowl or pitcher, c.1900-1915



 this is a beautiful and fairly early historic piece which was formed and very finely and very precisely painted in a floral four-directions design for a very specific purpose and reason. This bowl is a unique and rare form of Pueblo pottery made to perform one of the most important and meaningful tasks in any Southwestern Pueblo culture—to call or summon or welcome in the nourishing rain. The four-petalled flower precisely painted in the center of the bowl’s interior signifies the four cardinal directions of the world and is also symbolic of the richness and fecundity of the earth after the life-giving rains. So too are the finely-rendered floral and foliate leaf designs encircling the outside surface of the bowl.


Such a bowl would have been filled with water to reflect the image of water up and around the room and thus symbolically project it upwards in an appeal to the sky and heavens for rain to come. In the esteemed tradition of the finest of historic Santo Domingo Pueblo pottery, this bowl was made to a very high technical and aesthetic standard. As is typical of Santo Domingo Pueblo pottery, the vegetal black paint is thick and richly and evenly applied, the warm white bentonite clay slip is also beautifully applied and very finely stone-polished.

The rich wide painted red band encircling the bowl at the bottom of the design field is emblematic of this very early 20th Century time frame. Such “red-banding” was common on historic Rio Grande Valley Pueblo pottery in the 19th and early 20th Centuries and had all but disappeared by 1920. The medium-sized bowl measures 9 1/2” in length, 7 1/4” in width at the widest point and is 4” in maximum height. It is in excellent original condition overall with one slight crack extending approximately 1 1/2” down from the rim near the handle which could be very easily and very inexpensively restored by a professional pottery restorer, if desired though this is hardly necessary in our view.


A thorough examination of the vessel under Ultraviolet light reveals no evidence of restoration or over painting.

The vessel’s surface has developed a wonderful soft aged mellow patina from decades of handling and use. This bowl

is both a beautiful piece of vintage Pueblo pottery and a rare and unique example of Southwestern history and

material culture at the same time.



Price $1,250



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A Fred Harvey Company postcard, c. 1905

Present-day map of New Mexico Pueblos


-Photo source and © U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Washington, D.C.