Atencio, Luteria – Tan Incised Potsuwi’i Jar (1930’s)
Luteria Atencio is one of the early revivalists in San Juan pottery. This is one of her tan pieces inspired by the Posuwi’i incised wares. The ancient Potsuwi’i pottery was grey in coloration and so the all tan was a way to emulate this coloration. However, there are few piece of this coloration as the style quickly became one of red polished rim and base and a tan coloration in the center. The fully polished tan is a more unusual (and difficult to polish) style. The rim and area below the shoulder are fully polished. The center section is very intricately designed. There is a rain cloud pattern along with mountain designs. Note the use of the micaceous clay as a slip to highlight the incised areas! It is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Luteria Atencio”. The jar is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.
Luteria was one of the original Eight San Juan potters who revived the art form in the 1930s. She is a fascinating personality who promoted San Juan pottery and art throughout her career. Her grandson, Mike Bird, is a well-known jeweler. At San Juan, the Pueblo was renown for their pottery but by about 1890 there were no potters left. In 1930 Regina Cata organized a pottery study group at San Juan Pueblo with the intent of revitalizing pottery production. The group studied ancient potsherds of wares made at San Juan in earlier times and selected Potsuwi‘i Incised Ware (1450-1500) as a basis for a contemporary pottery type.