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.
This vessel was made by Kevin Williams, whose great-grandmother, Rose Williams, was responsible for the revival of Navajo pottery over 50 years ago. It stands 5.75 inches high and is 6.75 inches across. $135. The horned lizard vase at right was made by the well-known Navajo potter Elizabeth Manygoats, daughter of Betty Manygoats who made the very large vase at the bottom of this page. 8 inches high. $210. Elizabeth also made the bowl with the roundup scene at far right. That little figure in the very center is a dog, barking his encouragement...or excitement. 6 by 2 inches. $90. (Santa Fe)
Four rare and collectible large vessels by Navajo pottery matriarch, Rose Williams.
Top left: 14 inches high and 9.75 inches across. $800. Top right 10.5 inches high and 9.75 inches across. $875.00
Bottom left: 16 inches high and 9 inches across. $675.00 Bottom right with corn motif 13 inches high and 7 inches across. $800.00
By Betty Manygoats, this exceptionally tall wedding vase embellished with horned lizards is23.5 inches high. $1100.