Sunday, September 21, 2008

Decorating with Native American Pottery

Native American art and crafts are found abundantly in fine homes all over the country. This is especially true in the American Southwest, where a variety of Native American Tribes continue to create genuine authentic Native American crafts such as art, sculpture, pottery, rugs, baskets and more.

Indians created their pottery by firing clay and in the beginning, these simple pots had no decorative designs. Clay pots were used for carrying and storing liquids, grains for cooking and preserving seeds for planting. Eventually, Native Americans began to decorate and embellish their pottery with nature, animals, people, gods and geometric designs. Pottery began to be used in ceremonial rituals and burials.

Today, Indian culture in the Southwest is thriving and has remained virtually unchanged, unlike anywhere else in the country. Many tribes in New Mexico and Arizona continue to produce authentic arts and crafts that reflect their culture is alive and strong. Much of the Pueblo Indian tribes in the Southwest have not integrated or intermarried with Caucasians. They have remained segregated on their reservations, which has preserved their culture and traditions.

Authentic Indian pottery has never been created using a potter’s wheel. Pots were made slowly by hand, using the method of coiling and pinching. The pots were smoothed to create burnished backgrounds for designs. Pigments from boiled plants and finely ground metallic rocks were used to make paint for decorating the pots. Chewed twigs or yucca fronds were used to make brushes. Pots were hardened in an open outdoor bonfire. These methods are still used today.

Southwestern Native American pottery is valued as fine ceramic art. Complex geometric patterns are painstakingly painted by free hand. Some of the best women potters are recognized world wide and serious collectors of Indian art pay top dollar for these amazing works of art. Pottery has become a valuable source of income for economically challenged Native Americans.

1 comment:

William & Susanne Waites said...

Thank you for this encouragement to learn more about Native American pottery. The pottery you blog illustrates appears to from Mexico's Village of Mata Ortiz. It is beautiful work. But other work by pueblo potters of New Mexico is equally as attractive and worthy of using in home decor. One place to see a large selection of it is at
I hope this is appropriate and helpful