Ancestral Pueblo: Greater MogollonMogollon HighlandsMogollon-MimbresMimbres Decorated / White WareMimbres Classic (Style III) Black-on-white - Polychrome

Type Name: Mimbres Classic (Style III) Black-on-white - Polychrome

Period: 1000 A.D. - 1140 A.D.
Culture: Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Mogollon
Branch: Mogollon Highlands
Tradition: Mogollon-Mimbres
Ware: Mimbres Decorated / White Ware

First posted by C, Dean Wilson 2012

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white was defined by Cosgrove and Cosgrove (1932). Pottery assigned to this type includes a wide range of forms that have been more recently referred to as Mimbres Style III (Anyon and LeBlanc 1984; Shafer 1995; Shafer and Brewington 1995). Mimbres Classic Black-on-white appears to have been first produced at about A.D. 1000 and may have been produced as late as A.D. 1140 (Shafer 1995).

Observations relating to the remarkable succession of styles and images noted in (iron-based) mineral painted decorated pottery produced during the Mimbres phases have noted decorated reflecting both a nonfigurative tradition reflecting geometric images influenced by stylistic traditions from other Southwest culture areas as well as a very distinct locally developed figurative tradition exhibiting naturalistic images and scenes that have formed basis for popular characterizations of Mimbres and Southwestern images (Brody 1977). It should be noted that there are considerable similarities and overlap between pottery displaying the two types of decoration and single decorative tradition is certainly reflected. The naturalistic images noted on Mimbres white ware vessels have long been illustrated, described, and discussed in detail and provide the basis for speculation about Mimbres cosmology, life-ways, and economy not possible for prehistoric Southwest groups without similar figurative decorative pottery tradition (Brody 1977; Brody and others 1983; Fewkes 1914; Hegmon and Nelson 2003; LeBlanc 1983; Nelson and Hegmon 2010).

Despite the distinct and well-executed designs, like earlier Mimbres white ware types, Mimbres Classic Black-on-white essentially represents a slipped and painted brown ware. The softness of the brown to red finely tempered pastes and friability of the white slip still reflect the difficulties of producing white ware forms with clays derived from local volcanic rock sources. Changes in Mimbres Classic or Styles reflect a series of gradual changes derived from earlier Mimbres white ware types. This type is mainly represented by bowl forms although jars do occasionally occur.

Changes associated with Mimbres Classic or Style III Black-on-white is represented by a series of gradual changes that developed directly out of earlier Mimbres white ware types (Shafer 1995; Shafer and Brewington 1995). The earliest examples of Mimbres Classic or Style III Black-on-white that were produced from about A.D. 1000 to 1050 and is reflected by three variations that all seem to be directly derived from Mimbres transitional Black-on-white (Shafer 1995). One is reflected by the use of two or four quadrant fields. This group tends to display fine hachured bordered by thin line. A second early style is distinguished by the use of fine, regularly spaced hachure bordered by thin lines. A diagnostic feature of this style is the presence of framing lines near the rim. Changes in nature of these framing bands occurred during the early part period Mimbres Classic Black-on-white was produced. Early during the production of this type, framing lines included bold lines above multiple fine lines. Sometimes these lines frame geometric band that sometimes display negative designs. Bands of fine lines may be closed off by a bottom line with pendant triangles. Naturalistic designs appear in increasing frequencies often with an emphasis on eyes. A third early style early style consists of a rectangle or square on the vessel bottom.

Styles associated with middle part of the Classic period (A.D. 1050 to 1110) represent forms associated with the height of production of Mimbres painted pottery and is the best represented sub-style in almost all major collections (Anyon and LeBlanc 1984; Bradfield 1931; Cosgrove and Cosgrove 1932; Nesbitt 1931; Shafer 1995). Bands are framed by multiple fine parallel sometimes with one or broad lines. The area below these framing lines may be left plain or embellished by anthropomorphic or zoomorphic designs. This combination of framing lines and naturalistic figures or scenes on bowl interiors serves as the popular image of Mimbres pottery. Another stylistic variant produced during the middle Mimbres period is the white slipped bowl for which decoration is limited to paint around the top of the bowls.

A sometimes exquisite polychrome effect was also achieved through the addition of other paint colors, such a yellowish or red, to along with the black mineral paint. Such pottery has sometimes been classified as Mimbres Polychrome and is considred here as a rare variant of Mimbres Classic, usually consisting of less than one percent of all Mimbres pottery at a particular assemblage.

Still another variant associated with the middle and late Classic period is the flare rim bowl (Shafer 1995). Flare-rim bowls, which also include polychrome variants, exhibited bands that highlight the flared rim, and were framed by two three broad lines. Naturalistic designs are sometimes painted on the bottom of these bowls.

At about A.D. 1100, the nature of rim treatment changed. Bands dominated by multiple fine lines, were replaced by a solid rim band starting from the lip and extending into the interior of the bowl. In other examples, a band is not present, and a solid geometric pattern became part of the design field itself (Shafer 1995). In other late examples of this type, design bands were suspended from a single narrow line. Decorations on jars are almost always decorated by broad designs placed around the upper part of the vessel, and framed on the top by one and occasionally two broad lines.

Anyon, Roger and Steven A. LeBlanc
1984 The Galaz Ruin. University of New Mexico Press, Albuqurque.

Bradfield, Wesley
1931 Cameron Creek Village: A Site in the Mimbres Area in Grant County, New Mexico, School of American Research Monograph No.1, Santa Fe.

Brody, J.J.
1977 Mimbres Painted Pottery. School of American Research: Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Brody, J. J., Catherine J. Scott, and Stephen A. LeBlanc
1983 Mimbres Painted Pottery: Ancient Art of the American Southwest. Hudson Hill Press, New York.

Cosgrove, Hattie S., and C. Burton Cosgrove
1932 The Swartz Ruin, A Typical Mimbres Site in Southwestern New Mexico. Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol 15, No. 1, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Fewkes, Jesse W.
1924 Designs on Prehistoric Pottery from the Mimbres Valley. El Palacio 15:9-13.

Hegmon, Michelle, and Margaret C. Nelson, editors
2003 The Archaeology and Meaning of Mimbres, Archaeology Southwest, vol 17, no. 4. Center for Desert Archaeology, Tucson.

LeBlanc, Steven A.
1983 The Mimbres People: Ancient Painters of the American Southwest. Thames and Hudson, London.

Nelson, Margaret C., and Michelle Hegmon (editors)
2010 Mimbres Lives and Landscapes, School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe.

Nesbitt, Paul H.
1931 The Ancient Mimbrenos. Beloit College, Logan Museum Bulletin No. 5, Logan, Wisconsin.

Schafer, Harry J.
1995 Mimbres Archaeology at the Nan Ranch Ruin. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Shafer, Harry J and Robbie L.Brewington
1995 Microstylistic Changes in Mimbres Black-on-white Pottery: Examples from the Nan Ruin, Grant County, New Mexico. Kiva 66(1)5-29.

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Mimbres Classic Black-on-white bowl sherds

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white bowl

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white bowl

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white bowl

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white bowl

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white bowl

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white bowl

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white bowl

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white seed jar

Mimbres Polychrome bowl sherds

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white bowl

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white bowl

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white bowl

Mimbres Classic Black-on-white bowl