This Mata Ortiz pottery olla--or jar--has designs based on the excavated pottery of the Casas Grandes Valley in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Archaeologists excavated the area in 1959 to 1961; in the village of Mata Ortiz, about 15 miles south, the art of pottery making was subsequently relearned. This is a large, older pot, measuring 8 1/2 inches tall, 8 inches across the belly and 4 1/2 inches across the mouth. Weighing 2 pounds 5 ounces, it's in excellent condition, with no cracks or chips and just a few paint flakes (the only really noticeable one is shown in photograph #3).
The bottom of the jar is fire-darkened, which is the reason that the pot has an equator line, sometimes called the transition line (shown in photograph #2); if the pot was to be placed in the fire for cooking, then the bottom was not painted. The hand painted designs on this pot are repeated geometrics in black and red on the smoothed clay, our favorite being the eye with its eyebrow. The interior was partly smoothed but is still rough and obviously handmade.
Pottery in a more contemporary, polished style is now being made in Mata Ortiz, but this pot is in the traditional, ancient Casas Grandes style. This handsome olla is an excellent addition to a collection and a fine decorative piece.
>>>Research included the book "The Story of CASAS GRANDES POTTERY" by Rick Cahill, 1991.
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