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Nampeyo  

Barbara Kramer

(b Tewa Village, First Mesa, Hopi Reservation, AZ, c. 1860; d Polacca, Hopi Reservation, July 20, 1942).

Native American Hopi–Tewa potter. In the 1890s she began to incorporate forms and motifs adapted from Sikyatki, Awatovi and other prehistoric Southwest pottery traditions (see Native North American art §V) in her work. By c. 1900 Nampeyo had elevated the new revival style to an independent art form, later designated Hano Polychrome. She worked in the traditional coil-and-scrape method with local clay. She formed vessels ranging from small seed jars and bowls to low-shouldered jars as large as 500 mm in diameter and ollas (large-mouthed water or grain jars) up to 460 mm high. On the surfaces she painted designs of stylized birds, feathers and graceful curvilinear motifs, inspired by ancient pottery, in finely ground mineral pigments and boiled vegetal matter, using a fibrous yucca-leaf, chewed at the end to form a brush (e.g. Samuel Barrett collection, Milwaukee, WI, Pub. Mus.). She fired the vessels outdoors with dried sheep dung or, less frequently, with coal; they turned a warm honey colour with red and black designs, occasionally with white accents. Nampeyo also made a smaller number of vessels with clay that fired red and during her early years sometimes laid a white slip on the surface before painting the design. She did not sign her work. In ...