Thursday, April 5, 2012

Southwest Ceramic Form/Style


Rautman, Alison. 2010 A Bird Effigy Vessel (Patajos) from Central New Mexico. Pottery Southwest 29(1): 2-11.

      Rautman discusses a headless duck-effigy ceramic vessel from a Glaze A pueblo found in a burned room in the Salinas region of central New Mexico. The hollow vessel is an unusual pottery style for this area. Other duck-effigy pots have been reported elsewhere in the Southwest. These ceramics are described as being duck, shoe, or boot shaped. Several studies in the 1960s and 1970s talk about this type of vessel. They claim that it is best viewed as a small cooking vessel. Although this example has the duck-tail and wing nubs that show a clear relation to a duck, it does not show any signs of being used for cooking. It is much smaller in size and has black painted decorations. This seems to be the only recorded duck effigy found in the Salinas region. This vessel was found in the Frank's Ruin site, under a collapsed adobe wall that had fallen on top of a burned stratum along with a large amount of burned maize and several large sherds. The duck effigy vessel is made of light colored gray clay (unslipped gray ware or white ware). It was burned on the top of the body of the duck and on the left side only, with only a small burned patch on the base of the vessel. There is no handle. The vessel is unbroken, with only a very small chip on the neck rim, and little sign of wear along the rim. Unlike some duck effigy vessels from the northern Southwest, there is no indication that this vessel ever included any head.
      No comparable duck effigy vessels have been found in the Salinas area pueblos, but similar examples of painted headless duck vessels have been found in the northern Southwest and in the Mimbres area. These examples differ in the fact that they have handles and in the Mimbres examples, have painted anthropomorphic faces. It is then suggested that these vessels had some ceremonial function, but the fact that it was found among foodstuffs, pottery and basketry suggests that any ritual or ceremonial function was not incompatible with its inclusion in daily activities.

Hegmon, Michelle. 2002 Recent Issues in the Archaeology of the Mimbres Region of the North American Southwest. Journal Of Archaeological Research 10(4): 307-357.

      The Mimbres region on southwestern New Mexico is famous for its spectacular pottery with naturalistic designs. Because of this, the region is also infamous for the commercial looting of sites. Hegmon's research in this region has focused on interpretations of social organization and ideology based on architecture, mortuary patterns and most importantly, pottery designs. The Mimbres region is considered part of the larger Mogollon area. In general the Mogollon are associated with pit houses and red and brown pottery, although Mimbres also has above-ground architecture and black-on-white pottery.
      The extraordinary paintings on Mimbres bowls and their placement in burials suggest the possibility that the black-on-white pottery was not made for daily or domestic use. In much of the Puebloan Southwest, jars are far more common than bowls, which are generally painted. A different pattern is seen in the Mimbres region, where unpianted bowls are common and bowls are more common than jars. Hegmon discussed Lyle's work which concluded that bowls were used for more varied purposes than jars. She says that many authors have made general statements about the various motifs: there are many many rabbits, many animals in general, some people, some “ritual” scenes, and very few plants. However, there is no published study that systematically or quantitatively considers the frequencies of various kinds of images across a large or representative sample of Mimbres pottery. Hegmon's main point is that there is no published study that systematically deals with a number of issues relating to one of the most famous pottery types in the Southwest. They know a great deal about what is depicted in Mimbres paintings in general, but these general impressions have yet to be substantiated with detailed, systematic, quantitative analyses that consider style, origin information, and the full range of designs.

1 comment:

  1. It is interesting to me that your Hegmon 2002 article seemed to focus primarily on ceremonial pottery as both of my articles seem to have found that there is both ceremonial and plain, everyday pottery, if you will.
    For example, the Chacoan Great Houses are surrounded by ceremonial pottery, but there are also ceramic middens around that show evidence of a great deal of just regular usable pottery in various stages of production. Of course, the levels of production reduced later as Chaco imported ceramics from other areas for all of their needs.
    The point of all this is I wonder why Hegmon only focused on ceremonial ceramics when there are often so many ceramics to be found in the Southwest.

    Works Cited
    Toll, H. Wolcott
    2001 Making and Breaking Pots in the Chaco World American Antiquity 66(1):56-78

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