Sarracino, Myron – “Chocolate Jar” with Cloud and Rain Designs
Myron Sarracino is one of the few Laguna potters working today. He learned to make pottery from Gladys Paquin and creates pieces which are thin-walled and tightly painted. This jar is cylindrical in shape and inspired by the ancient “Chocolate Jars” of Chaco Canyon (read below). The jar has cloud and rain designs as the painted patterns with the use of finely painted lines. Note on the rim that there is a painted “spirit line”, which is where the “spirit” of the painter is able to leave the piece and it is also a tribute to the potters who came before. It is seen on much older Acoma and Laguna pottery. The jar is signed on the bottom.
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