Begay, Jr., Harrison – Brown “Golden Eagle” Effigy Jar
This is a striking eagle jar by Harrison Begay, Jr.. He has won numerous awards over the years for his deep carved pottery. This piece is coil built and has an oval shape. The shape is meant to capture the idea of an eagle in flight. The top of the bowl has an eagle head effigy sculpted in the clay. The beak, eyes, and feathers are all fully polished. On the side, Harrison has carved another eagle with circular wind designs. Opposite the bird head effigy is the tail feathers of the eagle extending upward. Opposite the side with the second eagle head are the eagle’s wings and the tail feathers. The entire piece is fully carved and it combines both matte and polished surfaces. There is a technical difficulty in creating the beak and head when they are fully polished so they don’t crack in the firing. While the jar has a variety of carved designs, it is the coloration this is so distinctive. Harrison fires his pieces brown, which is created in a similar style of firing as when pieces are fired black. The brown coloration also harkens to traditional Navajo pottery that was fired brown with fired clouds and covered with pinon pitch after the firing. Harrison says that he tries to carve his pieces so that the imagery looks to be in motion. Note as well the style of carving, which has a beveled appearance to the angle of the cuts into the clay. This is a very distinctive style of carving for his pottery. The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Harrison”.
Harrison says of the brown firings:
The reddish-brown color I learned how to fire from Forest Naranjo and Jody Naranjo. I fell in love with it. I love the color. I’m not sure if in the past anyone had been doing carving on reddish-brown fired pieces before I started. I don’t think I started it, but I fell in love with the color and how it looks on the polished and matte surfaces. I like to keep with the traditional shapes. I really enjoy the results of polish and the matte areas contrasting against one another.” Harrison Begay, Spoken Through Clay