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SANTA FE  NEW MEXICO

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This is one of the most interesting and unique Nampeyo pieces we have seen in some time and that is saying quite a lot.

This bowl is remarkable for any number of reasons, first of which is its extremely pleasing shape and impressive size and its unique and distinctive interior and exterior painted designs both of which are beautifully conceived and very finely realized. Due to its outward flaring shape and profile such bowls have often been referred to as “Helmet” or “Stew” bowls, but that is a mostly fanciful descriptor, not always an indication of actual function. The detailed interior design of the bowl is built around one of the most significant and meaningful ancient Hopi symbols in existence, the so-called “Nakwach” or handshake of brotherhood foreseen in Hopi prophecy to occur when the Hopi people are eventually re-united with their long lost White brothers, the so-called “Pahana”. (See “Book of the Hopi” Frank Waters and Oswald White Bear Fredericks, Viking 1963, Penguin Books 1977, for a more complete description

of this fascinating ancient Hopi prophecy.)



“The Bear Clan leader stepped up to the barrier and extended his hand, palm up to the leader of the white men.

If he was indeed the true Pahana, the Hopis knew he would extend his own hand, palm down, and clasp

the Bear clan leader’s hand to form the Nakwach, the ancient symbol of brotherhood. Tovar instead curtly commanded one of his men to drop a gift into the Bear Chief’s hand, believing that the Indian wanted a

gift of some kind. Instantly, all the Hopi chiefs knew that Pahana had forgotten the ancient agreement made between their people at the time of their separation.”


-Frank Waters and Oswald White Bear Fredericks,

“Book of the Hopi”, Viking Press, 1963, pp.252

Nampeyo of Hano and her youngest daughter, Fannie Polacca Nampeyo,  c. 1920

Photo source and © Frashers Fotos

The bowl measures a very impressively-sized 12” in diameter and it is 5 1/2” in height. It is in remarkably excellent original condition with no cracks, no significant chips and no restoration or overpainting in evidence under a thorough Ultraviolet-light examination. As one might expect in a century-old pottery vessel, there are a few scuffs and abrasions present here and there, mostly on the bottom of the bowl, but nothing of any consequence. There is also a very slight groove or indentation in the clay body of the bowl near the bottom which is pictured below.


The bowl has been unconditionally authenticated as being the work of Nampeyo and Fannie Nampeyo and dated

to 1918-20 by historic Hopi pottery scholar, author and longtime former Museum curator, Edwin L. Wade, Ph.D.* Furthermore, the bowl’s provenance is excellent. According to Dr. Wade, the appearance of the four-digit numeric code “1775” in black ink on the bottom of the bowl indicates that the bowl was once in the fine old family collection of Northern Arizona’s most prominent ranching and political family, the Babbitt family.


This special bowl radiates a profound harmony, peacefulness and beauty all informed by and emanating directly

from the deep humanitarian idea encapsulated by its central motif and symbol, the ancient “Nakwatch” handshake of brotherhood. This is a rare and reasonable opportunity to acquire an unusually distinctive and attractive historic piece made by two of America’s most celebrated historic Native American Artists; a marvelous and meaningful

Mother-Daughter artistic achievement.



Price $6,500



Inquire                                                    Purchase




*Edwin L. Wade Ph.D. is likely the world’s pre-eminent authority on historic Hopi pottery and the work of Nampeyo and her family in particular.

He is the author of several important books on the subject including “Historic Hopi Ceramics from The Thomas Varker Keam Collection” Peabody Museum, Harvard University Press, 1981 and “Canvas of Clay, Seven Centuries of Hopi Ceramic Art,” El Otro Lado Publishing, 2012.

A large Hopi polychrome “helmet-style” pottery bowl by Nampeyo and her daughter, Fannie Nampeyo, c. 1918-1920

The Nakwach or brotherhood symbol of paired crescent motifs sits in the very center of the bowl’s interior inside a four-part diamond shaped design surrounded by a lovely and graceful four-part symmetrical pattern of lush, complex Zuni-influenced arabesque designs reminiscent of flowers or Fleur-de-lis. These repeating four-part and symmetrically-opposed design schemes are characteristic of much of Nampeyo’s design work. The arabesque designs are further enhanced by the surrounding interior rim decoration of finely-hatchured repeating lozenge and diamond forms.


The overall design here is simultaneously graceful, complex and elegant. The depth of the bowl highlights the different design elements in a strikingly effective way, making them appear to float one on top of the other. It is our opinion and that of the distinguished Hopi and Nampeyo pottery expert, Edwin L. Wade Ph.D. with whom we have discussed this bowl in detail, that Nampeyo made the bowl itself and she painted the interior design of the bowl and that her youngest daughter Fannie Nampeyo painted the somewhat bolder and thicker-lined exterior design.



“There is a profound airy lightfulness to the interior

composition of this delightful bowl by Nampeyo and Fannie.”


-Edwin L. Wade Ph.D.



Please also take careful note of the incredibly beautiful yellow-colored clay interior and exterior surfaces of the bowl; this is the fine Hopi Antelope Mesa grey clay prized and used at Hopi for centuries which fires to a lovely, rich creamy lightish-yellow to orange color. The extraordinary quality of the vessel’s stone polishing should also be well taken notice of here too, the polished surface is smooth as a baby’s bottom.