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Polychrome Jar

Unknownca. 1820

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Many scholars regard this beautiful jar as the finest of all existing Santa Ana ceramic works. The overall composition, a powerfully conceived construct of bold singular shapes, complex configurations and delicately painted details reflects the work of a true master. The painted design shares elements found on many Pueblo jars of the early 1800s. Most dominant are the stepped figures, which join with interlocking hatched and solid motifs containing smaller unpainted elements. Large diamonds, repeated arcs, triangles, a number of rectangular eyes and spiral forms that may represent feathers complete the pattern. This imagery, while highly abstract, is known to be emblematic of ritual symbolism and religious belief. The jar’s deep color is enhanced by the lustrous patina of great age and long use.

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  • Title: Polychrome Jar
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: ca. 1820
  • Physical Dimensions: w342.9 x h355.6 in
  • Type: Unknown
  • Rights: Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, https://art.nelson-atkins.org/rights
  • Medium: Clay and pigment

Additional Items

Polychrome Jar (Supplemental)

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