This beautiful polychrome pottery bowl represents a way of life that existed in the desert southwest in 1400. A Native American woman created this bowl from the earth of her pueblo, used stone to polish it, painted it with mineral paints using a yucca brush, and fired it in a pit under the ground. It belonged to someone who lived here long ago.
It was excavated from the archaeological site here at Kuaua Pueblo, located in Bernalillo, New Mexico on the west bank of the Rio Grande. This pueblo was occupied by Tiwa-speaking people between 1300-1600. WPA workers under Dr. Edgar L. Hewitt conducted the excavation of the pueblo in the 1930’s. Thousands of artifacts were uncovered in the twelve hundred floor level rooms, including this bowl, which has been dated at approximately 1400 AD.
Parrots are painted as ornamentation on the inside of the pot, and on the outside around the rim. The outside images on the rim are hanging outside down. In between the parrots are katsina heads, also called “captain” heads, also upside down. The use of parrots in design indicate influences from Meso-American culture.
We see a great deal of time being spent on a pot used to process food, an indicator of the importance of agriculture in this community. The time taken to create this piece of pottery moves it from a utilitarian pot into the realm of art.
This bowl is part of the project we will be working on in the upcoming months with Americorps volunteers to add images to our website through 3D digitization! Stay tuned. 😉