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Acoma Pottery

The Acoma pottery tradition includes some of the most iconic pieces in American Indian production. Dating back through the last millennium, it comes from the Acoma people, whose origins can be traced to their pueblo in the American Southwest. Relying on the hard clay native to the area’s geology, Acoma potters created remarkably durable pieces, their strength reinforced by the inclusion, in some cases, of smashed pottery shards into their clay mixture.

Adding to these pots’ durability, even with their characteristically thin walls, are their delightful painted designs. From stylized animals to geometric motifs, Acoma pottery is known for its characteristically rich patterns and conveyed textures, which is part of the reason why it is still collected today.

Quick Facts

  • Most traditional Acoma pots are hand coiled, meaning the pot is constructed out of a coil of rolled clay that is then smoothed into the curved contours of the vessel
  • The Acoma Pueblo, which consists of three villages – Sky City, Acomita, and McCartys – is considered one of the oldest American Indian communities to be continuously inhabited
  • The fragmented pottery used as reinforcement to the clay came from the Acoma test of a pot’s quality. Acoma potters believed that all good pots should ring when lightly struck. If not, the pot would be smashed and repurposed

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