Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)Central AnasaziChaco and CibolaChaco-Cibola White WareRed Mesa Black-on-white

Type Name: Red Mesa Black-on-white

Period: 875 A.D. - 1050 A.D.
Culture: Ancestral Pueblo: Southern Colorado Plateau (Anasazi)
Branch: Central Anasazi
Tradition: Chaco and Cibola
Ware: Chaco-Cibola White Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012

Red Mesa Black-on-white was defined by Gladwin (1945). Pottery assigned to this type reflects a very important and widespread development for which the full nature of the origin and spread is still not well understood. Red Mesa Black-on-white was the most common pottery recovered during investigations of the Chaco Project (Toll and McKenna 1997), and also appears to be a very common type in areas of the Puerco of the west drainage (Hays-Gilipin and van Hartesveldt 1998). Examples of this typeassigned to the Puerco Valley variety of this type exhibit porous gray, dark gray or gray-brown pastes indicative of the use of high iron clays and abundant sherd temper. Pottery exhibiting characteristics commonly used to defined Red Mesa Black-on-white is also widely scattered not only reflecting a large portion of the decorated pottery dating to the tenth century sites across the Colorado Plateau, as well as that in sites in the Northern Mogollon, Rio Abajo, Northern Jornada and Northern Rio Grande regions. Thus, white wares associated with a number of regional traditions across the Southwest seem to have developed out of similar forms of Red Mesa Black-on-white.

Pastes noted for Red Mesa Black-on-white sherds tend to be hard with a fine to medium texture. Paste cross-sections are often white with a carbon core. Temper may be sand, sherd, or sherd and sand. Paste is usually light in color and carbon streaks are common. The surface is often, although not always, covered with a thin white chalky slip. Red Mesa Black-on-white is represented by a wide range and relatively even mixture of jar and bowl forms that also include pitchers, ladles, and effigies. Decorations are applied in a black to dark brown mineral paint. Rims are solidly decorated.

Designs consist of multiple parallel lines sometime embellished with triangles or ticked lines, ribbons, checkerboard patterns, widely spaced straight hachure, squiggle hachure, scalloped or ticked triangles, and scrolls (Hays Gilpin and van Hartesveldt 1998; Windes 1977). Painted designs are often well executed, and a number of elements often occur together in fairly complex patterns. Red Mesa Black-on-white often consists of several distinct motifs combined together to produce several distinct and repeating design combinations in a banded, quartered, or all over design layouts. Repeating designs are often organized in evenly spaced design patterns that are often, separated by a series of parallel lines often producing a distinct precisely executed and well organized pattern of intricate and opposing designs.

Gladwin, Harold S.
1945 The Chaco Branch: Excavation at White Mound and in the Red Mesa Valley. Medallion Papers 33, Gila Pueblo, Globe.

Hays-Gilpin, Kelley., and Eric van Hartesveldt
1998 Prehistoric Ceramics of the Puerco Valley: The 1995 Chambers-Sanders Trust Lands Ceramic Conference. Museum of Northern Arizona Ceramic Series No.7. The Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff.

Windes, Thomas C.
1977 Typology and Gechnology of Anasazi ceramics. In Settlement and Subsistence Along the Lower Chaco River, edited by C. Reher, pp 270-369. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Related Photos

Red Mesa Black-on-white bowl sherds

Red Mesa Black-on-white jar sherds

Red Mesa Black-on-white bowl

Red Mesa Black-on-white jar with handle

Red Mesa Black-on-white bowl sherds

Red Mesa Black-on-white sherds

Red Mesa Black-on-white bowl

Red Mesa jar with handle

Red Mesa Black-on-white sherds