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Black-and-White Storage Jar with Abstract Geometric Motifs

A work made of ceramic (earthenware) and pigment.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of ceramic (earthenware) and pigment.




Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico, United States

About this artwork

In the American Southwest, there is an Indian ceramic tradition that began to take form in the early centuries A.D. and has continued unbroken to the present time. Characterized by its many superbly varied styles, the art has been sustained by diverse Pueblo peoples and some of their neighbors, whose ancient and more recent settlements have long been established in the arid regions of Arizona and New Mexico. Ceramic artist of the Ácoma Pueblo, west of Albuquerque, produced an especially distinguished series of vessels during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This large olla is shaped with a truncated neck that slopes in a gentle curve to the high, rounded shoulder; the full, swelling body tapers smoothly down to the rounded bottom. A finely painted pattern of black-and white abstract designs covers the surface. The dominant decorative features are three medallions, each rimmed by black petals. Within each medallion, and divided by a central vertical strip adorned with zigzag triangles, are twin semicircular, double-ended bands filled with fine hatch marks; these, in turn, enclose inner designs of curving, triangular elements. The medallions themselves are separated by diamonds that frame hatched checkerboards, while complex triangular elements step down from the rim and up from the red-painted bottom. The austere color and multiple abstract motifs stem from past centuries of Anasazi (Ancestral Pueblo) ceramic styles. As is often seen in early works, the artist presents playful visual ambiguities between positive and negative space.


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Arts of the Americas




Black-and-White Storage Jar with Abstract Geometric Motifs


New Mexico (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1890–1899


Ceramic (earthenware) and pigment


46.4 × 48.9 cm (18 1/4 × 19 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Robert Allerton Fund; Gladys N. Anderson Endowment; Mary and Leigh Block Endowment Fund

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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