Origins Of Mata Ortiz Pottery
By Rebekah Powers | July 2022
To look at a piece of extraordinary pottery from the town of Mata Ortiz creates a sense of awe and wonder. Surfaces glitter and gleam with high polish and designs so intricate, they defy their humble hand-built origin and elevate the art form beyond the ordinary, beyond extraordinary, to an almost other worldly elegance.. One wonders how it is that so many from this little town of self taught artists are capable of this level of sophisticated technique and perfect finish in this challenging art form.
The town of Mata Ortiz is located in Chihuahua, Mexico and is adjacent to the prehistoric sight of the Pacquime Pueblo sometimes referred to as Casas Grandes, another name for the nearby area. The history of human development begins during the Late Archaic period, 3000 years ago with plant domestication which ushered in the settlement of terraces on the summits and slopes of the region, which slowly evolved, culturally, socially and artistically.
Most emblematic of high culture was the Pacquime settlement, a surprisingly complex “city”, thought to be the largest in the Puebloan world at the time 700-1100 A. D. The site became a vigorous regional trading economy and center. The monumental growth of the Pacquime’s complex urban society can be traced to the spectacular indigenous tradition of pottery that featured new vessel forms and elaborate decoration. Their ceramic trade ware served a local function as well, as prestige items in elite burials.
Tree ring dating, ceramic cross dating, and radiocarbon dating place the height of Pacqime growth and influence at 1200 to 1400 A.D. pottery from that time included Ramos Polychrome, Madeira Black-on-Red, and polished black ware, sometimes textured, and decorated with bold geometric designs.
Regeneration of the ancient ceramic craft by Juan Quezada and his family which has now passed on to many of the families of the village assures that history lives on in the charming, prolific tradition of the Mata Ortiz pottery, perhaps the longest lasting legacy of the Pacquime people. In person, or in our virtual online gallery and website, we make it easy to acquire your piece of history created by the talented hands of descendants of a lost indigenous culture. Mata Ortiz is the name of the town that will forever be synonymous with outstanding ceramic art. We at Chimayo Trading Del Norte are proud to offer this amazing pottery to the discerning public and collectors of fine art in our expanded gallery space.
Yes, people come to Chimayo Trading for the turquoise and silver, the best landscape painters and all the Native American art forms, but they also enjoy walking on floor boards that were patched with tin, a ceiling of hand hewn boards and cash registers that are as old as the most collectible vintage works.
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