Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande ValleyNorthern Rio GrandeGreater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)Northern Rio Grande White WareKwahe'e Black-on-white

Type Name: Kwahe'e Black-on-white

Period: 1000 A.D. - 1225 A.D.
Culture: Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande Valley
Branch: Northern Rio Grande
Tradition: Greater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)
Ware: Northern Rio Grande White Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012

Kwahe'e Black-on-white was defined by Mera (1935). This type represents the earliest white ware pottery that appears to have clearly been manufactured in the Northern Rio Grande region. Rare examples of pottery exhibiting styles or decorations described for Red Mesa Black-on-white exhibit pastes indicative of local manufacture have been noted and are considered here as an early variety of Lwaje'e Black-on-white. This type is characterized by decorative styles executed in mineral paint and surface manipulations similar to those noted in Cibola white ware types produced during the Pueblo II period, but are distinguished by pastes and tempers known to have been utilized in the Northern Rio Grande region (Conie and others 2o11; Mera 1935; McNutt 1969; Wilson 2005; 2010; 2013).

Pastes tend to be dark gray, are fine, break along an even plain. Pastes sometimes exhibit a glassy appearance indicative of vitrification. Temper is usually extremely fine and is often difficult to visually characterize but may consist of various combinations of tuff, sand, silt, and shale inclusions that appear to reflect the use of self-tempered clays. This type is easily distinguished from later Northern Rio Grande white ware types by the decorations in mineral paint that is usually black to gray but is commonly brown or red. While Kwahe’e Black-on-white is decorated with designs similar to those utilized in regions of the Colorado Plateau to the west, execution tends to be poorer, although well-executed examples are represented. Rims are usually tapered and may be either unpainted or solidly painted. The majority of pottery classified as Kwahe'e Black-on-white appears to be from bowls. Other vessel forms include seed jars, canteens, ollas, gourd dippers, and bowl dippers.

The range of painted styles is similar to that noted in other types known to have been produced in the Colorado Plateau during the late Pueblo II period. Early and late Pueblo II designs are sometimes incorporated together in the same vessel. Designs are often executed in simple and broadly executed patterns that cover much of the vessel surface. These decorations often include single motifs presented in an all-over or banded layout, although rudimentary combinations of different design elements may occur. The design element most commonly associated with Kwahe'e Black-on-white and other regional types dating to this span consisted of a series of rectilinear bands filled with diagonal, squiggle, straight, or cross hachure. Other designs noted include dots, opposing triangles, radiating triangles, step triangles, checkered triangles, checkered squares, parallel lines and scrolls. No particular motif seems to dominate this type, although hachured forms are fairly common representing about a quarter of the pottery assigned to this type. Painted surfaces range from poorly to moderately polished, while well-polished examples have been noted but are rare. Unpainted surfaces are almost always unpolished, and are light gray green to gray. Some examples display surfaces that are not slipped that range from green to gray in color. Others display thin streaky white to thick slips applied over a gray paste. Painted surfaces range from poorly to moderately polished, while well-polished examples are rare.

In some studies this type has been divided into geographically distinct types based on differences in temper and surface manipulation thought to be spatially distinctive. Honea (1968) assigned some examples of pottery described here as Kwahe’e Black-on-white into a series of geographically distinct types based on differences in temper and surface manipulation. Pottery assigned to Barrago Black-on-white which was differentiated from Kwahe'e Black-on-white by a streaky polish, and Cholla Black-on-white differentiated by a gray, green, to brown slip (Honea 1968).

The area of distribution noted for Kwahe’e Black-on-white is associated with the river drainages and valleys that cross the middle and Northern Rio Grande region extending southward to the Albuquerque area north to the Taos Valley and east to the Rio Tecolote and west the Jemez and Rio Puerco Valley (Cordell 1979; Mera 1935; Lang 1982). Kwahe'e Black-on-white dates from abut A.D. 1000/1050 and is absent by the early thirteenth century (Wiseman 2014).

Condie, Carol J., Hayward H. Franklin, and Peter J. McKenna
2011 The Depositional Sequence and Ceramic Change at the Tsogue Site, LA 746, Tesuque Pueblo Land, Santa Fe County, New Mexico.

Cordell, Linda S.
1979 A Cultural Resource Overview of the Middle Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico. Submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, Washington, D.C.

Lang, Richard W.
1982 Transformation in White Ware Pottery of the Rio Grande. In Southwestern Ceramics: A Comparative Review, edited by A. Schroeder, pp. 153–200. Arizona Archaeologist No. 15. Phoenix.

Honea, Kenneth H.
1968 Material Culture: Ceramic. In The Cochiti Dam Archaeological Salvage Project, Pt. 1: Report of the 1963 Season, assembled by Charles H. Lange, pp. 111–169. Museum of New Mexico Research Records No. 6. Santa Fe.

Mera, H. P.
1935 Ceramic Clues to the Prehistory of North Central New Mexico. Laboratory of Anthropology Technical Series Bulletin No. 8. Santa Fe, New Mexico.

McNutt, Charles H.
1969 Early Puebloan Occupations at Tesuque By-Pass and in the Upper Rio Grande Valley. Anthropological Paper No. 40. Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Wilson, C. Dean
2005 Ceramic Artifacts. In Excavations at LA 103919, a Developmental Period Site Near Nambé Pueblo, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, by S. L. Lentz, pp. 89–150. Archaeology Notes, 199. Office of Archaeological Studies, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.

2010 Pena Blanca Ceramics. In Excavations Along NM 22: Agricultural Adaptation from ad 500 to 1900 in the Northern Santo Domingo Basin, Sandoval County, New Mexico, compiled by S. L. Post and R. C. Chapman, pp. 13–144. Archaeology Notes, 385. Office of Archaeological Studies, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe.

2013 Prehistoric Pottery from Pojoaque Corridor Project Sites. In Land Use, Settlement, and Community in the Southern Tewa Basin, Vol. 3: The Prehistoric Sites and Site Components, edited by J. Boyer and J. Moore. Archaeology Notes, 404. Office of Archaeological Studies, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, forthcoming.

Wiseman Regge N.
2014 Introduction to Mera’s “Ceramic Clues to the Prehistory of North Central New Mexico. In Since Mera: The Original Eleven Bulletins, with Essays and Opinions Derived from Recent Research, edited by E. J Brown, R. N. Wiseman and Rory P. Gauthier, pp 197-223. Archaeological Society of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Related Photos

Kwahe'e Black-on-white bowl

Early Kwahe'e Black-on-white olla

Kwahe'e Black-on-white bowl sherd

Kwhae'e Black-on-white jar

Kwahe'e Black-on-white bowl sherds

Kwahe'e Black-on-white canteen

Kwahe'e Black-on-white bowl sherds

Kwahe'e Black-on-white bowl sherd

Kwahe'e Black-on-white bowl sherds

Kwahe'e Black-on-white bowl

Kwahe'e Black-on-white bowl sherds

Kwahe'e Black-on-white bowl