Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Authentic Native American Pottery

Native Americans have been making pottery for thousands of years. The oldest pottery was made for utilitarian purposes, for storing things like grain, seeds for planting and carrying water. These ancient pots were mostly without designs, except for the texture of the coils, pinches and indented textures from pointed sticks. Women were the main potters, as their role was to gather while the men hunted.

Native American pottery was never made using a potter's wheel. The pottery is all hand made. Eventually, elaborate decorative designs began to appear on pottery, which also became an important part of ritual ceremonies. Not all of these designs are fully understood, as Native Americans are reluctant to share with outsiders the meanings of some of these sacred designs.

Today, Native American pottery is considered some of the finest and most valuable ceramic art and is sought after by collectors world wide. I was thrilled to find a supplier of authentic Native American pottery that deals directly with Native American artists in the Southwest from tribes such as the Hopi, Navajo, Acoma and the famous Mata Ortiz pottery from Mexico.

One style of Native American pottery that is easily recognizable because of its unique looking design is horsehair pottery. Like the name implies, horsehair pottery is actually made using the hair from the mane or tail of the horse. (Just to be clear on this, it only takes a few strands of hair from the horse, which doesn't bother the animal at all. Now the glue you crafters and scrapbookers use, you might not want to know where that comes from.) During the firing of the pottery, while it is red hot in the kiln, the hair is added to the surface, resulting in the shadowy streaks that makes this style so unique. The origins of this pottery are unclear, but one story states that it happened accidentally when a potter's long hair blew against the surface of a piece of pottery as she was removing it from the hot kiln. Since most Native American potters are women, and some of the greatest discoveries happen by accident, this story is probably true.

For more detailed information, see my Buzzle article, Native American Pottery.


James Oh said...


I must confess that your post have opened my eyes to the Native American pottery I had never even thought of.

Thanks for sharing such a great post with us.

The Stylish House said...

What an interesting story about the horse hair! Growing up in the west I am a fan and appreciate the beautiful Native American art. I am always impressed how you have such a great eye for spotting these unique items.

Alumnae Group of Delta Delta Delta said...

Michelle, lamp number 2 is just
the simple clean lined lamp
that would be a real asset to
my den. What a treat to be
able to enter your drawing on
July 3rd. You have a beautiful
web site with such beautiful
items available, I look forward
to future visits. Myke