Information about Navajo Pottery

Navajo Pottery Logo

Traditional Navajo pottery was originally a cruder form of work than pueblo wares, fairly thick in appearance, with little or no design and covered with a pine pitch making it utilitarian. This enabled the piece to hold water or to use in cooking.  Navajo pottery designs have changed dramatically over the last few decades. All Navajo pottery we sell  is individually handmade, but unlike the pueblo pottery,  many pieces are thrown on a wheel or start out as greenware rather than using the standard pueblo coil method. However, many Navajo artists are choosing to return to their earlier ways and are hand coiling their pieces. Many Navajo potters have made quite a name for themselves with their innovative wares combining traditional techniques with contemporary styling.  All carved and etched pottery pieces are hand carved and hand painted. The carving is very precise and time consuming.  The paint "slips" are natural pigments from the earth.   The designs used represent rain clouds, whirlwinds, water, mountains, lightning, etc. Some pieces feature Yei figures, or cornstalks.  The use of elements and important parts of their culture are incorporated into the pieces. Turquoise stones added to the wares has also become popular, and turquoise to the Navajo is a symbol of wealth and prosperity. 

The Navajo "Horse Hair" pottery we feature is very unique! There has been much trial and error over recent years, perfecting the horsehair style. It was actually "discovered" when Pueblo artist Corrine Louis pulled out a batch of freshly fired pottery and one of her own strands of hair fell onto the pottery, and scorched the fine delicate hair line onto the pot...from here the idea of "throwing" horse hair onto the freshly fired wares, leaving their unique markings began. 

There are numerous Navajo pottery styles to choose from nowadays, from the traditional pine pitch, to the elaborately etched pieces, as well as the hand coiled simple redwares that are as elegant as any Pueblo pottery! 

Look through our selection and choose the piece that suits you and your decor best! You will cherish any piece you might select!

(Jill Holmes, © 2007)