Traditional Navajo pottery has changed much over the centuries. At one time they made not only very large storage jars, but also painted pottery. Then, sometime in the 1800s, the hataathli or Medicine Men decreed that painted pottery was off limits – too dangerous to make. Plainware then dominated. Most were coated with pinyon pitch immediately after firing to make them waterproof. Cooking pots, drums and serving bowls were made. It was beginning to disappear by the late 1940s, with only one Navajo family making pottery.
It was revived in the 1950s largely to the efforts of Navajo potter Rose Williams and Bill Beaver, a trader fluent in Navajo, who liked the pottery and worked closely with the potters. On his first venture to sell Navajo pottery to shops he was having no luck until he came into my father's shop: dad bought every single piece he had.
There are also some figurative pieces in the Treasure Chest Gallery
This Navajo dish shows a slice of Navajo Reservation life. 6 5/8 by 1 5/8 inches. The bowl depicts a restful scene with sheep and dog relaxing while their mistress reads agains the backdrop of Monument Valley. 4.75 by 4.25 inches. Each was made by Elizabeth Manygoats and $160.
Beautiful, hand-built, fired and sgraffito work miniature seed jars by Wallace Nez. The bear and hummingbird pair are $525 each (2.25 by 1.75 inches) while the other three (2 by 1.5 inches) are $400 apiece. ALL IN TUCSON
Each of these three jars by Irene Williams has a stepped opening. 3.25 inches high and SOLD. Two alternate yei’i figures with corn while the third has a Navajo rug and (on the reverse) a Navajo basket motif. Each is $45. (THE MIDDLE ONE IS HEADED TO SANTA FE- THE OTHER TWO ARE IN TUCSON)
Front and back of another pot by Irene. SOLD
4 by 4.75 inches. (TUCSON)
Another jar by Susie. 6.5 by 6.5 inches. $240. (TUCSON
Above: a sublimely shaped and polished vessel by Susie (Williams) Crank. Granddaughter of the matriarch of Navajo pottery, the late Rose Williams. 3.75 inches high and just under 5 inches across. $120 (TUCSON)
The jar at left was made by Irene Williams and stands almost 11 inches high. The male (round head) and female (square head) yei’i motif flanked by corn is repeated four times around the jar. A nice cloud motif around the inside rim. $240 (TUCSON)
The bowl above is by Lorraine Williams and measures 13.25 inches cross and 8.5 inches high. $525. (TUCSON)
A nativity scene graces this double-spouted canteen** by Elizabeth Manygoats. 7.5 inches high. $160. (TUCSON) **usually called a ‘wedding vase’ these days, it is a form once known as a double-spouted canteen.
Front and back of a ‘wedding vase’ by Elizabeth Manygoats.
7.75 inches high.SOLD(TUCSON)
Both by Irene Williams and both are 7 inches high and $90. The one at right is in Tucson and the one at right is on its way to Santa Fe,