Well Known Native American Pottery

The beauty of Native American pottery is undeniable. Completely different from European or Oriental styles, Indian pottery is unique and fascinating. It is all the more remarkable because authentic Native American pottery is made without the use of a potter’s wheel. This pottery is made using the coil method. Long, thin ropes of clay are rolled out by hand then used to build a pot from the base, upward. It is a time consuming, exacting method that leaves the pot nearly as perfect as if it was formed on a wheel.

While every Native American tribe produced coil pottery, the most famous is that produced by the Southwest Indians. Some of the most easily recognized pottery pieces may be from the Navajo, Acoma and Hopi tribes. To help account for the distinctive look this pottery offers, geometric or stylized designs are used. A most important fact about Native America pottery is that it is traditionally made without using a kiln. The pots will be placed in a pit and then a thick layer of sticks and brush are placed over the pit. After the fire is ignited, the pottery will harden just as if it had been fired in a kiln. After firing, the burnished pottery is often polished with a smooth river stone.

Native American pottery can be decorated with bold and beautiful designs. Some of the designs are etched right into the wet clay with a variety of hand tools. The patterns can vary from geometric patterns to patterns of animals and birds. Represented on the pottery are things such as eagles, turtles and cattle. On some pieces of pottery, floral patterns are found as well.

Horsehair is a very unique and interesting form of Indian pottery. By placing horsehair, feathers, seeds, grass stems, and other natural items on the pottery when it is still hot, this unique style is produced. Almost abstract designs are formed in this way, and pots where red clay has been used are especially attractive. Legend has it that the long hair of a native potter brushed by accident against a hot piece of pottery. It became a style of its own because the resultant design was so pleasing.

In almost any home, Native American pottery can make an artistic and decorating statement. The earthy color tones will offer a unique touch and theme. A home decorated in the Southwest style is the perfect spot for this type of pottery. A ranch house, cabin or any rustic dwelling, can home Indian pottery with great success. Just by adding a unique piece of this pottery to your decor, it will add a bit of Native American culture to your home.

Mildred K. Pearson

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