Ancestral Pueblo: Greater Upper Rio Grande ValleyNorthern Rio GrandeGreater Tewa Basin (Northern Tewa)Northern Rio Grande Historic Bichrome - Polychrome Ware

Ware Name: Northern Rio Grande Historic Bichrome - Polychrome Ware

First posted by C. Dean Wilson 2012

Decorated vessels produced by Tewa potters during the historic period are the result of a series of technological and stylistic innovations during the Classic and Colonial period. During the late Classic period, changes in firing and clay use seem to be reflected by the shift from biscuit ware types to Sankawi Black-on-cream, which appeared during the late Classic period, and continued to be made into the Early Spanish Colonial period. By the seventeenth century, red-slipped areas were being incorporated into vessel designs, and the tan and cream slips that were first used in Sankawi Black-on-cream continued to be used to create backgrounds for painted design panels. This development resulted in the appearance of the earliest polychrome types of the Tewa tradition, which included Sakona Polychrome and Tewa Polychrome. Later changes in the application of slip, vessel forms, and painted styles resulted in pottery assigned to a range of historic types that incorporated similar slips and decorations in organic paint (Frank and Harlow 1990). Almost all the decorated pottery in Tewa decorated and polychrome types exhibit a fine tuff temper similar to that utilized in earlier decorated ware and contemporaneous plain ware types. Decorated wares produced historically in villages in the Tewa Basin tend to be distinct from those associated with other contemporary traditions in most other Pueblo provinces by the continual use of organic paint and the rarity of pottery exhibiting decorations in more than one color until the late nineteenth century.

Types assigned here to this ware groups reflect forms known to have been produced from about A.D. 1500 to 1930. Types defined here, in order of time during which they were first produced, include Sankawi Black-on-cream, Sakona Black-on-tan and Polychrome, Tewa Polychrome, Ogapoge Polychrome, Tesuque Polychrome, and San Ildefonso Polychrome and Black-on-red.

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