Walpi Polychrome pottery bowl, unsigned, Hopi
clay, slip, natural paints
ca. 1920, North America
Rich in iron, Hopi clay pottery can fire from cream to light red in color. Early nineteenth century pottery used a white slip casting underneath the painted decoration, which is called “Polacca Ware” and was in popular use through the 19th century when potter Nampeyo (b. 1860 – d. 1942) abandoned the use of the white slip, inspired by the Zuni, and painted her decorations directly on the polished clay. She also utilized the local archeological record of indigenous designs from the ruins of the Hopi village Sikyatki (excavated by J. Walter Fewkes in 1896) to inspire her creations. This style became known as Sikvatki (“yellow earth”) Revival. Despite the popularity of Nampeyo’s style, white slip also remained in use as evidenced in this pristine example from the 1920s, possibly a product of the Navasie/Naha families.