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Home of the Ute Mountain and Mesa Verde Pottery 970-565-4492
27601 E Hwy 160, Cortez, CO 81321

Different Styles of Native American Pottery

April 7, 2016

The art of making pottery is an ancient tradition for Native Americans. At Ute Mountain Indian Trading Company and Gallery, we pride ourselves in working with the artists to bring you a personalized buying experience. We represent Throughout the Southwest; the Native American pottery is vast and stylistically different from each tribe. We’ve outlined below some basic differences between each tribe.

  • Santa Clara Pottery: This pottery is very well known the world over, gaining notoriety from Maria Martinez of the San Ildefonso Pueblo. This pottery is made from the red clay in the area and begins as a hand-coiled piece of clay. The artists coil the clay and begin to create the shape of their piece. After the piece has gone through the building process, the clay is then polished by hand with a stone until the red clay shines. In order to get the black sheen that is often found on these pieces, horse manure is tossed onto the fire to trap a layer of smoke and fuse it onto the piece of clay. This pottery is very rare as each piece of pottery had a 3 in 5 chance of making out of the firing process without damage.
  • Hopi Pottery: This pottery focuses the tribe’s history, often encompassing the Hopi values of space, time, color and number. Each of these aspects had been heavily integrated into the making of their pottery, pre-16th century until Spanish influence came over. During the influence of the 16th century, pottery became heavier and imitated the Spanish influence. However, during current styles their pottery is rich, firing from a cream to a light red. The most famous potter from modern Hopi pottery comes from Nampeyo whose innovation and decorations were taken from excavations during the late 1800s. She incorporated the geometric designs and colors that were discovered during the excavation of the Sikyatki Revival. Though some Hopi potters do tend to use different techniques and styles that are indicative of merging cultures, Hopi pottery still incorporates its history and diverse heritage.
  • Navajo Pottery: Navajo pottery initially incorporates pine pitch and a utilitarian thickness which was traditionally used to hold water or for cooking. Over the last few decades’ Navajo pottery has undergone resurgence in hand-coiled pottery. Traditional meets contemporary with this beautiful, one-of-a-kind pottery is hand carved and hand painted with symbols that represent clouds, water, mountains, lightning and other natural elements. The use of these symbols is an important part of their culture and helps represent the natural world around them.


27601 E Hwy 160, Cortez, CO 81321