This is a wonderful polychrome olla (water jar) from Zia pueblo, 10″ tall by 11″ in diameter. The condition is excellent for it’s age with modest ethnographic wear and with no restoration.

Set against a white slip from the neck through the mid-body, the olla is decorated with black and orange both bisected solid feathers with caps, Zia birds and a meandering flower with stem and bisected leaves. There is a double framing line at the rim and separating the mid-body from the under-body.

What is wonderful about this olla is apparent as the jar is rotated and we focus on the leaves. One set of leaves is black; turn the jar and leaves show an emergent purple; one more turn and the third set is deep purple, surely the intended color. Traditional outdoor firing has always carried risks. Wind or sudden moisture can cause spikes or uneven firing temperatures, leading to uncertainties in the outcome. In the worst cases, ollas may crack or break entirely. Fire-clouds can also form if the fuel (usually manure) adheres to the olla and then burns. In this case, the outdoor firing contributed to this wonderful progression of colors. I have owned this jar twice; selling it to a dealer and later buying it back. So for 20 years, this jar has been in my personal collection.

Condition is excellent, original and unrestored

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