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Maria Martinez
Native American (1887 - 1980) Primary

Olla (Water Jar)

ca. 1923-1936
Black clay with burnished decoration

9 1/2 in. x 11 1/8 in. ( diameter) (24.13 cm x 28.26 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 91.E1.15
Geography: North and Central America, United States, New Mexico, San Il Defonso Pueblo
Classification: Containers and Vessels; Vessels; Ollas
Culture/Nationality: Pueblo, San Ildefonso, Native American
Collection: Nahm Collection
Description: One of four vessels by acclaimed potter Maria Martinez in the Bryn Mawr collection, this olla illustrates her most famous style: a burnished black-on-black matte with simple and repetitive figural and geometric designs. This particular vessel displays a horned serpent (avanyu) and an eagle feather design, both frequent motifs used by Martinez. Among Pueblo peoples, the avanyu is believed to be a water spirit, with the wavy body representing underworld waters and the tongue representing lightning.

Martinez, a traditional potter, entered the national spotlight when she created this style of black-on-black ware with her husband, Julian Martinez, and began to sign her vessels. Through her exhibition of traditional pottery techniques at national events, Pueblo pottery gained recognition as an important American art form.

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:
  • Animalia - Kingdom containing multicellular organisms having cells bound by a plasma membrane and organized into tissue and specialized tissue systems that permit them to either move about in search of food or to draw food toward themselves. Unable to make their own food within themselves, as photosynthetic plants do, they rely on consuming preformed food. They possess a nervous system with sensory and motor nerves, enabling them to receive environmental stimuli and to respond with specialized movements.
  • Native American - Typically reserved to refer narrowly to the cultures of the native peoples of the United States and Canada, excluding the Eskimos and Aleuts. For the indigenous peoples of Canada use the term "First Nations." For the broader concept of the cultures of any native peoples of Central America, South America, North America, or the West Indies who are considered to belong to the Mongoloid division of the human species, use "Amerindian (culture)."
  • ollas - Large, bulbous, usually wide-mouthed earthenware or woven vessels used for holding water or food or for cooking; may have handles.
  • San Ildefonso

Additional Images Click an image to view a larger version
Additional Image 91.E1.15_BMC_f.jpg
Additional Image 91.E1.15_BMC_b.jpg
Additional Image 91.E1.15_BMC_f_3.jpg
Additional Image 91.E1.15_BMC_s.jpg

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
  • Worlds to Discover: 125 Years of Collections at Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr College , Sep 24, 2010 – May 28, 2011

Bibliography List
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
  • Marianne Hansen and Emily Croll. Worlds to Discover. Bryn Mawr College. Bryn Mawr, PA, 2010
    Page Number: 35

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<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Olla (Water Jar) |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=6/1/2023 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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