Sanchez, Russell – Large Gunmetal Wide Shoulder Jar with Bears, Bear Lid and Gourd Base
This is a complicated wide shoulder jar by Russell Sanchez. The jar has a low shoulder with a short neck. The sides of the jar are carved in three areas with a “ripple” effect. Russell has amazingly carved three layers into the clay creating a “ripple” around the central medallion, where he has incised a bear medallion. He has repeated this similar design three times around the shoulder of the jar. Each bear has a large inset turquoise stone in the center. Separating each of the bears are incised clouds. Each of the clouds is different. Interestingly, Russell etches the designs into the clay before the piece is fired, which adds to the overall complexity and risk in his work. The neck has a checkerboard pattern with inset turquoise and hematite hei-shi beads above and below. Around the side are bands of hematite hei-shi beads along with inset hematite stones. The base of the jar is also carved with 16 “gourd’ indentions. This imagery is seen in the work of earlier San Ildefonso and Santa Clara potters and the indentions are carved into the clay and the entire surface is polished. They are called, “Gourd” indentions as a reflection on the shards of gourds traditionally used to smooth the pottery when it is being made. The entire jar was fired to a glassy-gunmetal coloration. This is achieved by a high, hot firing. The lid has a large bear on top that is fully polished. It is surrounded by turquoise hei-shi and inset turquoise on the back. The edge of the lid is micaceous slipped and inset with hematite stones. The overall flow of form and design is striking on this piece! The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Russell”.