Black and white jar with sgraffito Day of the Dead design, Click or tap to see a larger version
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Emiliano Rodriguez, Mata Ortiz and Casas Grandes, Black and white jar with sgraffito Day of the Dead design
Artist: Emiliano Rodriguez
Pueblo: Mata Ortiz and Casas Grandes
Dimensions: 13 in H by 9 1/2 in Dia Measurement includes stand
Item Number: xxcgf8115m3
Price: $ 1200
Description: Black and white jar with sgraffito Day of the Dead design
Condition: Excellent
Signature: Emiliano Rodriguez Loya Lucas
Date Created: 2018
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Mata Ortiz and Casas Grandes

Paquime macaw pens
The macaw pens at Paquimé

Casas Grandes is both a municipality and an archaeological district in northern Chihuahua State, Mexico. The archaeological district includes the pre-historic ruins of Paquimé, a city that began to build around 1130 AD and was abandoned about 1450 AD. Archaeologists are uncertain as to whether Paquimé was settled by migrants from the Mogollon/Mimbres settlements to the north or by Anasazi elite from the Four Corners region in the United States or by others. Over the years Paquimé was built into a massive complex with structures up to six and seven stories high with multiple Great Houses in the surrounding countryside. Today, the site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mata Ortiz is a small settlement inside the bounds of the Casas Grandes municipality very near the site of Paquimé. The fortunes of the town have gone up and down over the years with a real economic slump happening after the local railroad repair yard was relocated to Nuevo Casas Grandes in the early 1960's. The town was in steady decline until Juan Quezada, a poor farmer who gathered firewood in the area of the archaeological site, found fragments of ancient Paquimé pottery and even older fragments of Mimbres forms with bold black-on-white designs littering the ground. Those pot shards inspired him to recreate how that pottery had first been made.

Paquime polychrome effigy pot
Ramos Polychrome effigy pot from Paquimé

Quezada was successful in his quest to recreate the ancient process using slightly more modern techniques (although no one in the present tradition uses a potter's wheel). He learned to use sand and other coarse materials for temper. He discovered that dried cow dung made an excellent and inexpensive firing fuel. Instead of using gourds for smoothing he substituted broken hacksaw blades. Instead of using yucca fiber brushes for painting he learned to make brushes with human baby hair. He persevered in his efforts and by 1971 had produced a kind of polychrome pottery. Since then, most pottery-making in the area has used innovations in the design and decoration of the pots but the materials and the basic crafting of the process have remained the same.

By the mid-1970's, Quezada had attracted a significant number of traders and his work was becoming a commercial success. That is when he began teaching his techniques to his immediate family. They in turn taught other family members, friends and the younger generations. Both women and men were included from the beginning.

Contemporary Mata Ortiz pottery was mistakenly called Casas Grandes prehistoric pottery in the early years of its production. But the potters of this tiny village have made such an impact on the pottery communities, including many awards and special recognition from the Presidents of Mexico, that Mata Ortiz pottery is now becoming known around the world.

Today, pottery production has changed the village in many ways as there is now electricity, plumbing, vehicles and more for the residents. Virtually everyone in the small town (2010 population: 1,182) makes their living by working in some part of the pottery-making process, from potters to clay-gatherers to firewood collectors to traders.

Mata Ortiz pottery incorporates elements of contemporary and prehistoric design and decoration, and each potter or pottery family produces their own distinctive, individualized ware. Young potters from surrounding areas have been attracted to the Mata Ortiz revival and new potting families have developed while the art movement continues to expand. Without the restraints of traditional religious practices or gender constraints, a vibrant flow of new ideas has enabled the pottery of Mata Ortiz to avoid the derivative repetition common to virtually all folk art movements. This blend of economic need, gender equality, cultural expression and artistic freedom has produced a unique artistic movement in today's community.

Mata Ortiz location map

For more info:
at Wikipedia
at Wikipedia
at Wikipedia
Upper photo is in the public domain
Lower photo is courtesy of David Monniaux, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License



100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234
www.andreafisherpottery.com
All Rights Reserved

Day of the Dead

Mata Ortiz

Hector Javier Martinez made this sgraffito Night of the Dead design

Hector Javier Martinez
Mata Ortiz
Sgraffito Night of the Dead motif on a red and white bowl

Hector Javier Martinez
Mata Ortiz
Sgraffito Night of the Dead design on a black and white jar

Hector Javier Martinez
Mata Ortiz

The Day of the Dead, El Dia de los Muertos, is a holiday celebrated in Mexico where ancient Aztec rituals going back more than 2,500 years are merged with Catholic beliefs brought by the Spaniards in the 1500's. The holiday is about honoring the ancestors with food, drink, parties and other activities designed to include the ancestors' spirits in today's daily life. Families also set up ofrendas, or private altars, to honor their ancestors.

Death is considered an integral part of the continuum of life and, as such, is not to be feared. Celebrations occur November 1 (All Saints Day) when adult spirits come to visit, and November 2 (All Souls Day) when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves of their loved ones. This is a very colorful holiday with marigolds, cardboard skeletons, sugar skulls, incense and tissue paper decorations in riotous colors everywhere.

Depictions of Day of the Dead activities is a motif explored by several renowned potters from the village of Mata Ortiz in Chihuahua, Northern Mexico. Premier among them is Hector Javier Martinez who originated the style in 2008 after searching for "something different" to help him secure pottery making as a vocation. He has since won several major awards for his Day of the Dead (and Night of the Dead) pottery, the very prestigious Presidencial Award from the Mexico National Ceramics Concourso in Tlaquepaque among them. Alfredo Rodriguez, Diana Loya, Martin Corona, Adrian Corona and Emiliano Rodriguez are some of the other Mata Ortiz artists using Day of the Dead and Night of the Dead motifs as inspiration for their own creations.

Sgraffito Day of the Dead motif on a black and white jar

Alfredo Rodriguez
Mata Ortiz
Black and white jar etched in the sgraffito technique with a Night of the Dead motif

Adrian Corona
Mata Ortiz
Sgraffito Day of the Dead design on a black and white jar

Emiliano Rodriguez
Mata Ortiz

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234
www.andreafisherpottery.com
All Rights Reserved