In my own collecting, I have divided historic pueblo pottery forms that are smaller than dough bowls, storage jars and ollas into 2 types. One I have called “small Indian pottery bowls and jars” and the other “Native American pottery cups, pitchers and old tourist forms”.
Small Indian pottery bowls are fairly self-explanatory including small Indian pottery chili bowls, soup bowls, serving bowls, etc. By small jars, I am referring to small versions of storage jars and ollas; traditional forms just smaller. By and large this may mean an olla or storage jar shape that is 5-6” tall not 10-18” like the traditional water and storage jars.
My interest in this form has been rekindled only recently by spending time with Santa Fe gallery owner, Robert Nichols, a good friend of mine. Robert has long collected small Indian pottery jars. His wonderful collection has been composed of late 19th to early 20th century examples. Many have patina from years of pueblo use or handling by collectors. Small jars are easier to pick up, hold, examine, move, etc. than larger ollas; the best of them are irresistible, begging to be held. Pottery is a tactile art form, created by loving hands and small jars lend themselves to being appreciated by touch as well as by our eye senses. They more often have primitive, non-commercial-feeling designs which are warm and wonderful. Others have very sophisticated and beautifully executed designs elements such as the Kewa (Santo Domingo Indian pottery jar from Robert Nichols collection shown in the “small Indian pottery bowls and jars” inventory here). Many items from Robert’s collection will be coming to this site.
There are several advantages to collecting these smaller forms. First, beautiful contemporary pueblo small bowls and jars are plentiful at Indian Market and in Santa Fe galleries, but finding really exceptional small Indian pottery jars with age, use, warmth, etc. is more of a challenge. They are surprisingly rare. Next, if we live in a smaller space or we’re challenged by how to display our pottery, smaller bowls and jars are just easier. Finally, a very important consideration for me as a collector is cost. Even an exceptional small historic jar costs a fraction (sometimes a small fraction) of a great olla or storage jar. So a fine and beautiful and warm collection is possible for more of us.
Clearly, I am in a constant search for great examples so please contact me if you have items to sell or consign.
Watch New Additions as I add these wonderful examples to the website. And enjoy.