Montoya, Tomasita – Large Carved Polychrome Bowl with Plant Designs (1960’s)
This is one of the larger pieces we have seen by Tomasita Montoya. She was one of the early revivalists in San Juan pottery. This large bowl is both carved and incised. The rim and base are fully polished red. The inside of the bowl is also fully polished! The outer band is both carved and incised. The incised style began in the 1930’s with the revival and the deeper carving came along later. The designs are plant and cloud patterns. Note the variations in the depth of the carving and incised areas and how the various colors of clay are used to accentuate the various depths. The bowl is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair. It is signed, “Tomasita Montoya” on the bottom, although it is somewhat worn away. I originally acquired this bowl from Dick Howard in the early 2000’s.
Tomasita was one of the original seven San Juan potters who revived the art form in the 1930s. 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.