University Museums

Title: Black on black feather design pot
Name: Pot
Date: c. 1935
Medium: Clay
Country/Culture: Native American - San Ildefonso
Dimensions: 7 1/4 × 9 1/2 in. diameter (18.4 × 24.1 cm)
Marks: Signed on bottom "Marie and Julian"
Classification: Decorative Arts, Ceramics
Credit Line: Gift of Margaret Griffin Groll. In the Permanent Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Roy J. Carver Co-Lab
Object Number: UM82.27
More Information
During the nineteenth century, the art of making fine Southwestern pottery was virtually lost as native populations were encouraged to abandon their cultural identity and assimilate into Anglo- American society. In an effort to revitalize Pueblo pottery in the early twentieth century, Maria Martinez began experimenting with a style found among the ruins of Pajarito Plateau, creating a black polished surface, decorated with matte designs. "Blackware," made by most Rio Grande Pueblos, was traditionally large, crudely polished and thin-walled. However, the revival wares made by Martinez were heavier, with thick walls and a more finely polished surface, described as a gun-metal black sheen.

Most pottery made by Martinez incorporates designs in black matte, a technique invented by Martinez and achieved through burnishing the surface. Typical matte designs may incorporate the "avanyu," or water serpent, simple geometric patterns, naturalistic symbols or feathers, as seen on this large pot.