The History of Pottery

As told by a member of the Hopi Nation

Hopi pottery is a traditional art form of the Hopi people, who have lived in what is now northeastern Arizona, United States, for centuries. The Hopi have been making pottery for thousands of years and their pottery is known for its intricate designs, fine-grained clay, and the use of a variety of mineral pigments to produce a wide range of colors. The Hopi pottery was used for a variety of purposes, including cooking, storage, and ritual use.

One of the most renowned Hopi pottery styles is the Sikyatki Polychrome pottery, which was produced between about 1375 and 1600 AD. It is characterized by its fine-grained clay, intricate designs, and the use of a variety of mineral pigments to produce a wide range of colors.

After the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, the Hopi people were forced to adopt new ways of life and new technologies. As a result, the production of Sikyatki Polychrome pottery came to an end, but Hopi pottery tradition continues to be passed down through generations, with different styles and techniques being developed over time. Today, Hopi pottery is still highly valued for its artistry and cultural significance, and it continues to be a vital part of Hopi culture and tradition.

Historically, Hopi pottery varied in style and appearance based on the village of production (Bishop et al., 1988), as shown in the image below. Hopi Pottery Collecting Sites>
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Source: Bishop et al., 1988

Bishop, R. L., Canouts, V., De Atley, S. P., Qöyawayma, A., & Aikins, C. W. (1988). The formation of ceramic analytical groups: Hopi pottery production and exchange, AC 1300–1600. Journal of Field Archaeology, 15(3), 317-337.Fewkes, J. W. (1898). A preliminary account of archaeological field work in Arizona in 1897. US Government Printing Office.