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An Acoma Pueblo pottery canteen

by Mary Histia, circa1930

An extraordinarily detailed pottery canteen by “Acoma” Mary Histia (1881-1973), the renowned 19th to 20th century Acoma pottery matriarch.

In the first quarter of the 20th century, Histia, who had previously excelled at painting traditional Acoma polychrome designs of parrots and floral elements on her pottery, turned increasingly to a stark modernism inspired by the ancient prehistoric designs on Tularosa black-on-white pottery then being unearthed by archaeologists working in the nearby volcanic lava flows or “Malpais” (Spanish for Bad Lands) of Mount Taylor near Grants, New Mexico, just a few miles from Acoma Pueblo.

Histia appropriated these ancient designs and rendered them with a unique and fresh hand creating incredibly complex, highly detailed vessels such as this canteen. There are four separate design fields here--on the canteen’s top, its two sides and the bottom --all woven seamlessly together in a masterly feat of visual artistry and manual dexterity.

The canteen measures 9” in height, 7 ½” in width and 6” in depth. It is in excellent original condition with one chip to the mid-body. The canteen comes with a detailed letter of authentication and analysis from leading historic Pueblo pottery expert and former Museum Curator, Edwin L. Wade Ph.D.


Mary Histia Acoma pottery

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