Patricio, Robert – Large Four Color Water Jar with Four Parrots
9.5"w x 10.5"h
Very colorful! Robert Patricio is known for his classic forms and use of both traditional and pre-historic imagery. This jar is coil-built and thin-walled. It has a classic water jar shape with a round shoulder, elongated neck, and small rim. The jar is painted with four large parrots. They are each painted with both red and orange clay slips. They are surrounded by plant and rainbow designs. It is not just the colors of the clay that accent the jar, but his creative use of the ‘negative space’. The white speaks as strongly as the red or orange to draw the eye to the next design. The thin lines for the hatchwork on the plant and the band of flowers around the neck are details that make the jar more dynamic. So, why are there parrots on Acoma pottery?
“The thick-billed parrot is a symbol unique to Acoma pottery. The Acoma people associate brightly-colored parrots with rainbows, and thus with rain. Some also see parrots as spirit messengers who bring sun and rain to the dry Pueblo. The representational parrot design seen on Acoma pottery such has stayed essentially the same since its inception in the mid-1800s. The bird is often perched on a branch and eating berries. It has a curved beak typical of parrots. Quite often there is a circular or diamond design on the breast of the bird and a D-shaped element at the base of the tail.
Acoma people wear parrot feathers in their hair, and use them to adorn masks, fetishes and prayer sticks. The parrot clan is an important part of Acoma social structure, since they are responsible for gathering salt for the tribe. Their activities all relate in some way to rain – salt comes from dried water beds, salt attracts moisture, and they gather the salt to the south of the pueblo (where parrots originate),
The use of “four colors” (red, orange, black, white) was typical in Acoma pottery in the late 1800’s and then died out only to be revived in the early 1970s. Robert has perfectly captured the dynamic importance of the parrot and Acoma water jar on this piece. Robert is certainly one of the leading traditional Acoma potters working today which is evidenced by his stunning forms and complementary designs. The jar is signed on the bottom, “R. M. Patricio”.