Thursday, October 29, 2009

Authentic Southwestern Native American Pottery

Southwestern style decor is heavily influenced by the art and culture of Mexico and local Native American tribes. The indigenous Native Americans of the Southwestern United States and Mexico have become skillful masters in the art of creating and designing pottery. Authentic Native American pottery is considered some of the finest ceramic art and is sought after by collectors worldwide.

Part of what makes Native American pottery so unique is that it is always hand made, mostly by women. Instead of using a potter's wheel, Native American potters use a technique known as the hand coiled method. This involves adding material to the slab of clay that starts as the base of the pot. The clay is welded row by row, using the thumb on the inner surface moving downward, while the fingers work the outer surface moving upward. Instead of starting at the sides of the pot, coiling begins on the upper surface of the base. This gives the pot more strength and sturdiness.

One of the most visually striking types of pottery is known as horsehair pottery. No one knows for sure how this technique came about, but it is rumored to have started accidentally when a potter's long hair blew against a piece of pottery she was removing from the hot kiln, creating a shadowy streak that zig zags around the surface of the pot. Horsehair pottery is made using hair taken from the mane or tail of a horse that is added to the surface of this pottery while it is red hot in the kiln. Horsehair pottery all has a similar look, however, each piece comes out different according to the way the hair flows on the surface.

Another popular type of Native American pottery commonly found in homes that embrace the Southwestern style is wedding vase pottery. This style of pottery played an important role in marriage ceremonies for Pueblo Indian tribes. A couple of weeks before the wedding, the groom's parents were responsible for providing a wedding vase for the ceremony. The two spouts on the top of the vase represented the two separate lives that are joined together as one by the bridge of the vase. On the wedding day, the vase was filled with Indian holy water which the bride and groom would drink from each spout. The symbolism of the wedding vase was similar to exchanging wedding bands and the married couple would cherish their wedding vase for the rest of their lives.

For more information on the different types of Native American pottery you can buy online in my store, HomeTreasureCove, see my article on Buzzle, Native American Pottery. When you purchase authentic Native American pottery, you're helping support the culture and traditions of these local Southwestern native artisans.


Debbie said...

My BIL makes horsehair pottery. Sadly, he doesn't part with any of it!

Jenn from The Crystal Company said...

The horse hair pottery is so unique. I love how each piece has the possibility to come out different.