Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande ValleyNorthern Rio GrandeGreater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)Northern Rio Grande Historic Plain WareTewa (Kapo) Polished Black

Type Name: Tewa (Kapo) Polished Black

Period: 1650 A.D. - 1920 A.D.
Culture: Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande Valley
Branch: Northern Rio Grande
Tradition: Greater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)
Ware: Northern Rio Grande Historic Plain Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012

Kapo Black was defined by Mera (1939). Pottery assigned here to Tewa (Kapo) Polished Black is characterized by thick black sooted or smudged deposits that were intentionally applied over slipped red surfaces (Batkin 1987; Frank 1990; Dick 1969; Frank 1990; Harlow 1973; Snow 1982; Warren 1979; Wilson 2011).

In examples, where the sooted or smudged layers were thickly applied, the underlying red slip is sometimes not visible even though its presence is often inferred. The very high iron content of the red slip contributes to the very high degree of polishing on the sooted surface characteristic of Tewa Polished Black. Sherds from similar vessels for which surfaces have not been sooted would be classified as Tewa Red. The sooted deposit may occur over the entire surface on bowls and the entire exterior surface for jars, although some forms are also slipped and sooted on both surfaces. Sooted surfaces of almost all examples are highly polished, resulting in a highly lustrous surface. This certainly reflects the desired effect achieved through the intentional application of a sooted deposit over a red slip that result in a highly lustrous and impervious surfaces. Wall thickness vessels vary considerably. Paste profiles tend to be light gray, gray, or brown, and cores are usually absent. Sherds tend to break along an even plain. Vessels surfaces not exhibiting thick sooted deposits are light gray to gray in color. Pastes fire from yellow-red to red, and the slips fires to a dark red. Temper usually consists of a very fine vitric tuff or pumice temper.

Historic black wares are sometimes assigned to Kapo Black or Santa Clara Black, which refer to vessel forms with a specific shapes and manipulations associated with later black wares. These are sometimes divided into an earlier hard paste thinner walled Kapo black and later later forms with black surfaces that are extemely highly polished and softer thicker pastes used to define Santa Clara Black. Black wares exhibiting characteristics sometimes used to define Kapo Black tend to be earlier (late eighteenthy to early nineteenth century. Those exhbiting characteristics used to define Santa Clara Black tend to be reflected by distinct forms indicative of tourist tourist wares produced during the late eighteenth and early twentieth century (Harlow 1973). Overall color patterns of large sherds and vessel s indicate that in some cases sherds assigned to Polished Gray and Polished Black could have sometimes originated from the same vessel. The upper portion of such vessels was often covered with a red slip resulting in a back surface while the lower portion was not slipped resulting in a gray surface. Such vessels essentially represent a sooted or smudged version of San Juan Red-on-tan and is similar to nineteenth century forms described as San Juan burnished black (Toulouse 1977). These vessels are described as having been polished, but not as diligently or completely as the later black ware as assigned to Kapo or Santa Clara Black. It is likely that these vessels also reflect styles and conventions that were commonly employed by Tewa Pueblo potters during the late eighteenth century and the first part of the nineteenth century. This may represent a technology with a fairly short duration, as black wares produced after 1780 and before 1880 appear to have been slipped over the entire surfaces. Other black ware bowls and jars were slipped over the entire surface and appear to be highly polished. Thus, pottery assigned to a range of Tewa red and black/gray ware represent a variation of conventions within a similar technology that included both oxidized red wares and gray or black forms with surfaces that were intentional sooted or smudged during the final stages of firing.

Batkin, Jonathan
1987 Pottery of the Pueblos of New Mexico, 1700 to 1900. Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs.

Dick, Herbert W.
1968 Six Historic Pottery Types from Spanish Sites in new Mexico. In Collected Papers in Honor of Lyndon L. Hargrave, edited by A.H. Schroeder, pp. 77-94. Papers of the Archaeological Society of New Mexico No.1. Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe.

Frank, Larry and Francis H. Harlow
1990 Historic Pottery of the Pueblo Indians 1600-1880. Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., West Chester.

Harlow, Francis H.
1973 Matte Paint Pottery of the Tewa, Keres, and Zuni Pueblos. Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.

Mera, H. P.
1939 Style Trends of Pueblo Pottery in the Rio Grande and Little Colorado Cultural Areas from the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century. Laboratory of Anthropology Memoris 3, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.

Snow, David H.
1982 The Rio Grande Glaze, Matte Paint, and Plainware Traditions. In Southwestern Ceramics: A Comparative Review, edited by A.H. Schroeder, pp. 235-278. The Arizona Archaeologist, Vol 15, Phoenix.

Warren, A. Helene
1979 Historic Pottery of the Cochiti Reservoir. In Adaptive Change in the Northern Rio Grande, edtied by J.V. Biella and R.C. Chapman, pp. 235-245. Archaeological Investigatons of Cochiti Reservoir, Vol 4. Office of Contract Archaeology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Wilson C. Dean
2011 Historic Indigenous Ceramic Types. In Settlers and Soldiers: The Historic Component at El Pueblo de Santa Fe (LA 1051), by S. C. Lentz and M. J. Barbour, pp 223 -234. Archaeology Notes, 410. Office of Archaeological Studies, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.

Related Photos

Tewa (Kapo) Polished Black bowl

Tewa (Kapo) Polished Black jar

Tewa (Kapo) Polished Black soup plate sherds

Tewa (Kapo) Polished Black sherds

Tewa (Kapo) Polished Black sherds

Tewa (Santa Clara) Polished Black pitcher

Tewa Polished Black jar