DESCRIPTION: Fine Acoma Pueblo terra cotta olla, circa 1920, with intricate black on white geometric designs with blossom, eye and cross themes; unsigned, good condition, no chips or repairs. DIMENSIONS: 8 3/4" high x 9 1/8" diameter.
ABOUT ACOMA POTTERY: Thin, hand fired walls (a common and sought after characteristic of Acoma pottery), light weight, and geometric designs characterize Acoma pottery. The Acoma Pueblo, also known as "Sky City," is located 50 miles west of Albuquerque near Enchanted Mesa, and is one of the oldest continually inhabited sites in North America. The area is home to particularly good clay, which potters mix with a temper of crushed potsherds. This results in the ability to produce very thin and lightweight, yet strong pottery.
Traditional designs range from complex geometrics to abstract animal, floral and figurative forms. Coloration consists predominantly of black and white, or black, white and orange although other colors also appear infrequently. Acoma clay is grey in color and potters achieve their white surface with a slip of kaolin, a naturally occurring chalky material that is a brilliant white. Black is made from crushed iron-rich hematite and/or the liquid from boiled wild spinach, which are often mixed together. There are no schools or universities that teach the complex techniques and skills necessary to make Native American Acoma Pottery. It takes many years to learn, requires much dedication and sacrifice, and is a skill passed down by the elders from generation to generation.