This simple Navajo Indian Diné pottery vase is a dark coffee color with lighter caramel-colored terra cotta swirls, that pattern looking like it may have been created by the "fire clouds," carbon smudges that tell us it was pit fired outdoors. It is all hand coiled and sealed with melted pinon pitch, although it has lost some of that shine from decades of use and touch. From the book Navajo Pottery, Traditions, and Innovations by Harman and Musial: “Like so many items within Navajo material culture, the real importance of pottery lies not so much in its functional or utilitarian uses, but rather in its place within the overall cultural framework. According to Navajo belief, pottery making was one of the crafts given by the Holy People even before the Diné emerged into the present world. Its special significance is preserved in the oral history and in ceremonial texts and songs that make frequent references to pottery.” The railroad and trading post system brought commercial wares to the Navajo, replacing much of the utilitarian pottery. Ceremonial pottery was still needed and made, as healing ceremonies used different vessels for cleansings, to hold dry pigments for sand paintings, and other uses. Brownware from the Cow Springs area of Navajo Nation did appear for the tourist market in the 1950s. We believe this piece is circa 1970s.
Measures about 5-3/8" tall and the mouth is just under 4" in diameter, and the widest part of the vase is 6-1/8" in diameter. The lighter swirls look slightly like cracks but they are not. No signature. Weighs 1.7 pounds unpacked.
Beauty, simplicity, history.
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