This small storage jar is typical of traditional San Juan Pueblo Red-on-tan design and dates from the beginning of the 20th century. The upper two-thirds of the vessel is covered in deep, highly stone-polished red slip over the basic tan vessel body and the interior is undecorated and stone polished. It was fired outdoors in the traditional manner. Both the shape and dark undecorated vessel is often seen in pre-1900 vessels. It has a beautiful globular shape with the widest diameter at mid-point and a graceful outwardly curving neck.
Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo had a strong tradition of plainware pottery production prior to 1900. Pottery styles included Black-over-gray and Red-over-tan, the difference being only from the firing technique. Pottery had red slip applied only the upper two-thirds of the piece. Those two styles of pottery were the extent of pottery production at the pueblo. The lack of painted designs was the reason such vessels were so beautiful. Vessel shape and high burnish were the traits that brought out the beauty of each jar or bowl.
Even after the arrival of the Spaniards in the late 1500s, San Juan Pueblo, now Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, stuck to its original pottery traditions of simple undecorated utilitarian wares that were so beautiful in vessel shape and simple slipped surfaces highlighted by fire clouds. Even today, a hundred years after the pueblo abandoned its traditional style for a more modern style to appeal to tourists and collectors, the beautiful undecorated wares of the pueblo are still capturing the eyes of collectors. Vessel shapes and surface finishes are the keys to the beauty of San Juan redware.
Condition: Excellent – original condition
Provenance: Originally purchased from the artist by my great-grandmother during a trip to Santa Fe. It has been in my family’s private collection.