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An outstanding Hopi red polychrome pottery jar with “Batwing”

designs by Garnet Pavatea, circa 1965-1970

Garnet Pavatea (“Asamana” or Mustard Flower Woman, 1915-1981) was one of the most creative and talented Hopi potters of the 20th Century. She was a highly-accomplished artist who was equally adept at working with traditional forms and designs from the past as well as creating and incorporating new ones of her own.

She was deservedly acclaimed for her ability to achieve excellent and intense coloration and striking contrast in her pottery through her innovative development and use of contrasting slip colors, deeply saturated paint and vividly realized, thickly-painted design schemes.

In creating this wonderful red polychrome jar, Garnet reached back for inspiration to the earlier red polychrome Hopi vessels developed by Nampeyo and her daughter, Annie, between 1895 and1915, which were themselves a “revival” of the ancient 13th-14th Century Kayenta and Bidahochi polychrome pottery types.

Pavatea was able to improve upon these earlier Hopi red polychrome vessels through her thickly-applied paint, deeply-saturated colors and extremely dynamic Modernist designs such as the marvelous four-part “Batwing” motif exhibited on this jar.

The jar measures 9 1/2” in diameter and is 5 1/8” in height. It is in excellent original condition. A thorough examination under ultraviolet light reveals no restoration or overpainting. There are several small areas in the painted design where the black paint mixed with the Kaolin white paint while it was being applied to form small areas of dark greenish-grey. These should not be seen as flaws in any way, just simply as a product of the process of creating a red polychrome painted design. The jar is properly signed “Garnet Pavatea” on the bottom, although there has been  visible abrasion to the signature.

This is a visually exciting and marvelous piece by one of the Southwest’s most distinguished Pueblo potters.


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