Patricio, Robert – “Chocolate Jar” with Lightning and Rain Designs
This is one of the few times Robert Patricio has made one of the classic Chaco Canyon “chocolate jars”. It is a shape which (see last photo) which was found in quantity at Chaco canyon. It was only recently discovered to be a receptacle for chocolate or cacao! The jar is coil built and painted with bee-weed (black). The piece has four handles, which are often typical of the ancient vessels. Robert said that at Acoma, there were two types of handles used on these pieces. This style has a raised half-circle loop which is pressed against the side so that the jar could be suspended and heated. The other style is an extended loop that would then have been threaded with leather and hung or suspended. This jar has the closer, half-circle handles. There are very finely painted rain and lightning designs on the side of the jar. They extend from the handles to the base. Robert said the small dots on the handles are similar to those on the Chaco vessels. It is signed on the bottom, “R. M. Patricio”. The jar is an exciting extension of his artistry in clay and continuing the amazing Acoma legacy.
More about the “Chocolate Jars of Chaco Canyon”:
For years Patricia Crown puzzled over the cylindrical clay jars found in the ruins at Chaco Canyon, the great complex of multistory masonry dwellings set amid the arid mesas of northwestern New Mexico. They were utterly unlike other pots and pitchers she had seen. Some scholars believed that Chaco’s inhabitants, ancestors of the modern Pueblo people of the Southwest, had stretched skins across the cylinders and used them for drums, while others thought they held sacred objects.
But the answer is simpler, though no less intriguing, Ms. Crown asserts in a paper published Tuesday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: the jars were used for drinking liquid chocolate. Her findings offer the first proof of chocolate use in North America north of the Mexican border.
How did the ancient Pueblos come to have cacao beans in the desert, more than 1,200 miles from the nearest cacao trees? Ms. Crown, a University of New Mexico anthropologist, noted that maize, beans and corn spread to the Southwest after being domesticated in southern Mexico. Earlier excavations at Pueblo Bonito, the largest structure in the Chaco complex, had found scarlet macaws and other imported items. Click here to read the New York Times Article by