Early, Max – Large Jar with Mask and Rain Design
Max Early is one of the few traditional potters working today at Laguna Pueblo. His work combines historic forms with a blend of contemporary and traditional designs. This is definitely one of the larger jar he has made in a while with the very wide shoulder and sloping neck. It is a beautiful shape and note the sharp edge on the shoulder of the jar where it drops down and then extends up to the neck. This is always difficult to create when coiling a piece. The designs are painted with strong lines. On one side, Max said it was meant to represent a katsina mask, with the circle being the nose and the eyes on either side. The area below are plant designs. The bold swirls in red are classic for Laguna pottery. The remainder of the jar has rain and plant patterns. Note the variety of angles of the fine-lines, as they are not all vertical or horizontal but extending in different directions. The complexity of the overall design is certainly striking! The rounded bottom harkens back to the traditional Laguna pottery when the water jars were meant to be carried on one’s head. Note as well his use of the various clays to create a “three color” jar! All the colors are created from natural clay slips and the black is bee-weed (a plant). The jar is also traditionally fired, which adds to the overall difficulty of the piece. It is certainly exciting to see a potter who is inspired by traditional shapes and designs and yet has the artistry to create his own distinctive variation!