Ancient cultures were often steeped in artistic expression. Some of these practices have been lost, but there are contemporary artisans who strive to embrace the ancient ways. One such example can be found in Mata Ortiz pottery.
The Origin of Mata Ortiz Pottery
Mata Ortiz is a pottery style that calls back to Mogollon antiquities. These ancient pots were discovered around Casas Grandes at Paquime pueblo in Mexico. While the ancient remnants are limited, modern artists have become inspired. Much of the development of these modern recreations is centralized in the town of Mata Ortiz. The movement can be largely attributed to Juan Quezada Celado. Quezada dedicated his life to recreating the spirit of these works. By the 1970s, Quezada had found a market and a following. The pottery movement has helped the town of Mata Ortiz become an artistic hotspot as pottery production continues to this day.
Ancient Artistic Techniques
To make this pottery, a specific process is used. Many potters work out of their homes with nothing more than the simplest of tools. This is meant to recreate the working conditions of the original potters with handmade tools. Each pot is formed without a wheel. Instead, the potter starts with a large ball. The ball is pressed into a tortilla shape. To help maintain a shape, many potters use a bowl to provide structure. From this base, coils of clay are added until the desired shape is achieved. Then, the walls must be scraped to create a smooth, thin exterior. Once the shaping is complete, the pot is dried and fired in a pit oven. Specific techniques and finishes can vary depending on the potter’s experience and preferences.
Historical Inspiration with a Modern Twist
It is more than the ancient practices that Mata Ortiz potters have worked to emulate. These works may be modern, but they are inspired by ancient designs. This means that they rely heavily on folk-art traditions with many motifs and styles that can be traced to pre-Hispanic times. There are two major categories for artistic expression for Mata Ortiz potters; geometric patterns and neutral colors. This pottery often looks like Paquime pottery and will typically have a classic oval shape. Other variations may feature a wider variety of earthy tones while using thin, sweeping lines.
The other major category for Mata Ortiz artists is more spiritual. These artists prefer zoomorphic images, and the pottery often features desert wildlife. Artists even utilize images from Day of the Dead celebrations. These more overt depictions can include skeletons and religious imagery that combine folk traditions with Christian orthodoxy. This style tends to use black and ochre coloration, but it is possible to find variations.
Add to Your Collection Today
Pottery from Mata Ortiz is beautiful. Whether you are a collector of fine art or simply want to embrace deeper cultural roots, these vessels can be a wonderful addition to your personal collection. Find handmade Mata Ortiz pottery for sale at Kachina House.