This dough bowl is as rare as it is beautiful. It is slipped and polished black all over, indicative of a Santa Clara origin w/ethnographic use including old minor rim chips, a 6″ vertical crack (stabilized) from the rim and some surface wear. All of this adds to the warmth of this majestic bowl. It is so subtle in design, no fireworks here. The bowl is wide bodied with a concave tapering at the neck before flaring slightly at the rim. Some golden highlights leak through the black, as complete smothering for an uninterrupted black surface was not important for a bowl never intended for the art market. On the contrary, firing marks were considered blessings or as Toni Roller of Santa Clara calls them, “natural design”.
One possible reason why we see so few old Santa Clara dough bowls may be the pueblo’s proximity to the northern New Mexico town of Espanola. By the 1890’s the availability of manufactured cookware including large bowls made the challenging construction of large dough bowls unnecessary. So if such bowls were not yet demanded by the art market, the last examples created may simply have been used, eventually damaged and discarded. We are very fortunate to have this fine example to enjoy today.
Old jars would often be on pueblo dirt floors when used in the home. For that reason, Addison Doty took some beautiful shots so we can see such bowls and jars from that vantage point; as the pueblo family may have seen them.