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Pottery and Preservation

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The Indian Arts Research Center located at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico is home to 12,000 items of southwest Native American art. The collection is rooted in a time when scholars and others shared the concern that tribes would eventually vanish and that it was imperative that the founders gather as much material possible as a means of documenting the history and culture of Native American tribes. In the early 1920’s the Pueblo Pottery Fund was established to do just that, to acquire as many examples of Pueblo pottery in the spirit of preservation.

The IARC enjoys its relationships with source communities and continues to build upon this important and timely initiative to engage tribal communities with the pottery, textiles, baskets and other items created by their ancestors and contemporary Pueblo artists.


The Pueblo of Acoma tribe, world-renowned for their thin-walled pottery with elaborate designs, has committed to continuing its pottery-making tradition and is currently working with the IARC to evaluate over 600 historic and contemporary potteries of their Pueblo in the collection. This storage jar was created by an unknown Acoma artist sometime around 1880-1890.


The Parrot is one of the 13 clans of the Acoma people. Since time immemorial, the symbol of the parrot has been applied to pottery. In the 1800’s the bird became a signature design on Acoma polychrome pottery. Today, potters are revitalizing older parrot designs while introducing new symbolism to continue the tradition of honoring the parrot.

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Traditional jars and bowls designed to hold water or food or used for cooking and bread-making were formed of the finest local clays. Potters incorporated crushed fragments of older pieces to preserve continuity of spirit. Paints were derived from earth pigments.

Craftwork 2, Pottery and Preservation, Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Acoma storage jar, artist unknown, circa 1880-1890