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Nampeyo Jr. is a term you never really hear but it applies very well here. This lovely jar is everything you’d ever want in a Nampeyo pottery piece but just possibly made in part by someone a little younger and perhaps a little less sure handed than the great master, but well on her way to becoming a pottery master in her own right. To us, this looks like a fairly early effort by the young Annie Nampeyo, Nampeyo’s eldest daughter, who would have been around 12-16 years old when this jar was made under the guiding hand and advice of her Mother Nampeyo.

The jar’s low-profile Sikyatki-Revival shape is lovely, but just slightly cattywampus and the beautiful “batwing” design scheme of Nampeyo’s is very nicely rendered, but a touch shaky and slightly uneven. Annie Nampeyo (1884-1968) certainly had all the right tools and training to become the great potter she did, beginning pottery making as a tiny toddler at her Mother’s knee around 1889. She continued making pottery with her Mother and on her own until the 1930’s when she was forced to stop due to painful arthritis.

At left, Homolovi Polychrome jar, c. 1375 A.D. At center, an example of a Hopi Sikyatki pottery jar with “Batwing"-like design elements, c. 1450-1550 A.D. At right, Bidahochi Polychrome bowl, c. 1400 A.D.

Center illustration source and ©  Jesse Walter Fewkes, “Prehistoric Hopi Pottery Designs”, Dover Publications, Inc., 1973. Right photo source and © Icollector

At left, note the large "Red Polychrome" jar to Nampeyo's right in this historic photograph entitled, “Mrs. Nampeyo, an acknowledged best Hopi Indian woman Pottery maker, 1st Mesa, Hopiland, Ariz. Sichomovi” by R. Raffius, 1905. At right, Nampeyo and her eldest daughter Annie making pottery, c. 1905.

Left photo source and © Keystone-Mast Collection, UCR/California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside. Right photo source and © Milwaukee Museum

"Nampeyo makes her designs after some she has seen on ancient ware."

-Hopi Ethnologist Alexander M. Stephen, 1893

Nampeyo “batwing” Jar c. 1920.

Photo source and © Denver Art Museum

The jar is very nicely but not perfectly symmetrically formed and the painting is beautifully if not perfectly done and the all-over stone polishing is absolutely gorgeous, perhaps done by Nampeyo. The uniquely beautiful three-color “Red Polychrome” design scheme on this jar is deeply rooted in ancient Hopi history and was a composition originally devised by Nampeyo around 1890 inspired by ancient Hopi pottery types such as Bidahochi Polychrome (1325-1400 A.D.) and Homolovi Polychrome (1340-1425 A.D.) using black paint and white kaolin paint outlining on a darker background color, in this case red.

The five-part asymmetrical “batwing” design is another Nampeyo signature based on her interpretation of certain ancient Hopi Sikyatki-style (1375-1625 A.D.) pottery designs as can be seen below. The five batwing designs on the jar are not identical they contain some charming individual idiosyncrasies or variations as can be seen here. The use of white dot outlining in addition to solid white lines is particularly interesting and extremely attractive. The design band extends from just under the jar’s rim to the mid-body and is bordered on the top and bottom by unbroken black framing lines, yet another Nampeyo pottery “signature.” These “Red Polychrome” pieces are fairly rare, Nampeyo and Annie only made them for a relatively short period of time from around1896-1912.

The jar measures a very nice-sized 8” in diameter and 4” in height. It is in very fine original condition. There is the slight amount of “lean” or not perfectly symmetrical shape which we mentioned earlier. There are also some surface scuffing and dings here and there. There is a small 1/2” long streak of an unknown black residue on one part of the jar’s shoulder and there is a fairly large firing cloud on one side of the jar. A thorough examination of the vessel under Ultraviolet light reveal no evidence of any restoration or overpainting. All in all, for a 120-plus year old vessel it’s in very fine shape. We should all look this good at that age!

This jar is a real good old beauty with a most distinguished family history, full to the rim with artistry, tradition and soul.

Price $3,650


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A beautiful Hopi red polychrome pottery

low-profile jar by Annie Nampeyo and possibly Nampeyo, c. 1896-1900