Montoya, Tomasita – Large Open Tan Potsuwi’i Incised Bowl with Handles (1930’s)
This is a very unusual large all tan bowl by Tomasita Montoya. She was one of the early revivalists in San Juan pottery. This is one of her few all tan polished pieces. It was inspired by the Posuwi’i incised wares. The early innovation in San Juan pottery was this style, although typically with a red rim and base. The fully polished tan is more unusual (and difficult to polish). There is an outer band that is fully incised with rain designs. Interestingly, the design style of the incised lines on this bowl are probably the closest to the actual Potsuwi’i pottery. They are slipped with mica. The remainder of the open bowl is fully polished tan, even the bottom! The bowl has handles, so it could be considered a serving bowl. It is signed on the bottom with a white clay slip, “Tomasita Montoya”. This style of signing pottery was popular in the late 1930s at Santa Clara Pueblo and also at San Juan. The open bowl is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.
Tomasita was one of the original Eight 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.