Permanent Galleries

Slant-Wall Bowl, 1250-1350

Western Pueblo culture
Slant-Wall Bowl, 1250-1350
slipped and painted earthenware
8.6 x 5.5 inches (21 x 15 cm)
Acquired with funds provided by the Mr. and Mrs. J. Moore McDonough Endowment for Art of the Americas

The Western Pueblo people of northern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico are the cultural descendants of the Anasazi and Mogollon cultures in the American Southwest. These people lived in farming communities that the Spanish described as “pueblos.” They created ceramic pieces well known for their intricate designs and fine artistic technique, as seen in this example of Cibola Whiteware.

The four zoomorphic creatures with long beaks and serrated backs that divide the interior composition are typical of Western Pueblo styles and are often interpreted as symbolizing the horned serpent. Each of the four units has a circle with a dot, usually interpreted as an eye. Longitudinal and diagonal hatching within the composition contrasts with the solid area of the design. Encircling lines frame the composition, one just below the bowl’s rim and one at the base of the design, leaving an open, circular area. The rim is flattened and has evenly spaced ticking around it.

On the white-slipped exterior, a checkerboard design appears on two opposite sides of the bowl. This design has several possible interpretations: it could imitate a blanket design, but may symbolize the winter starry war god, Hopi and/or Zuni clowns, or the horned serpent.