This is a most unusual and wonderful small jar. This shape is commonly found only in very large, 19th century storage jars from San Juan. In fact, in form, polish, gorgeous fire clouds, condition, etc., it is a marvelous and exceptional example. So if the measurements were not included, I and other collectors of historic pueblo pottery would view the photo of this piece and think: “big”; “big” meaning 14-18″ tall and 14+” in diameter.

In fact, it is a small version and the only one I’ve ever seen quite like it. Large San Juan jars are rare; and expensive. So if we love this form and have a wish to add an example to our collection, we must prepare ourselves to spend $20k or $30k or more. And the conditon of the typical very large examples will often include much ethnographic use. So this is an opportunity to add a piece that is arguably rarer still and far more affordable. This is one of the advantages of collecting great small pueblo jars; a collection of great, not just good examples, can be built affordably.

I couldn’t say with any certainty whether the potter’s intent was for home use or the art market. Given its age, I would guess made for a pueblo home and purchased by a collector shortly thereafter, before it had had much use. But such questions are often unanswerable and part of the fun of collecting old pueblo pottery.

This jar has great presence for a small jar and would serve as a fascinating center-piece of a fine collection of historic small pueblo jars.

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