This black ware vessel is an early work by legendary Tewa potter Maria Martinez (1887–1980). Martinez learned pottery making from her aunt and other women potters in her native San Ildefonso Pueblo. She was already a respected potter when she began her effort to revive the tradition of black on black ware pottery in the early 1900s. She and her collaborator/husband Julian Martinez drew inspiration from sherds recovered in excavations at nearby ancestral Puebloan sites. After several years of experimentation, in 1919–20 they succeeded in producing the distinctive ceramics for which they became renowned. This vessel is one of three Maria pots donated to the Museum in 2007 that belonged to the collection of Robert Warner, former director of the Bentley Library and first Archivist General of the United States. In keeping with the scrupulousness of the dedicated archivist, the records that accompanied the collection also include receipts and records documenting Warner family purchases in New Mexico in the early 1930s. In a letter written a several decades later, Robert Warner remembered his parents purchasing a fine bowl for $1.25 “at San Ildefonso from Maria herself,” noting “we used to visit with her and I remember her husband drawing designs on her pottery with a grass brush.”
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.