Begaye, Nathan – Large Polychrome Jar with Hopi Birds and Raincloud (1983)

9"w x 6"h

$ 2,800.00

This is a classic polychrome jar by Nathan Begaye.  He was a unique innovator among Pueblo and Navajo potters.  His ethnic connection to both Hopi and Navajo let his clay art flow between the two distinctive styles and yet find its own unique space.  His work used traditional designs, forms, and techniques yet somehow appeared very modern.  This jar has a round shoulder and a turned-out rim.  It is fully polished and then painted.  The jar is a very early piece of his pottery from 1983.  It is thin-walled and tightly painted. There are rain lines on the rim.  Around the top of the shoulder are four large Hopi birds.  When Dextra Quotskuyva painted this design, she would often call them swans.  The birds are painted with bee-weed and clay slips. Each of the birds has intricately designed tails and feathers.  The designs are all made-up of classic Hopi designs.  Below the shoulder is a corn design.  Interestingly, when you look inside the bowl, there is a classic Hopi rain cloud painted inside!  Take a look again at the birds and the various colorations.  Each color would be added to the surface and then stone polished, one at a time!  I watched him do this style, and it was very time-consuming. The results, however, are beautiful.  The jar was traditionally fired to create the blushes on the surface.  The piece is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.  It is signed on the bottom, “Nathan Begaye”.  It is from 1933.  The last photo is a picture I took of Nathan when he was living in Phoenix.  He moved there for several years and I would go to his apartment and see what he was working on and hear the stories about his pottery, the clays, and his firings.