Maria and Popovi Gunmetal Long Neck Water Jar with Avanyu Painted Design


This gunmetal long neck water jar with avanyu is a a stunning piece of pottery by Maria Martinez and her son Popovi Da was fired in 1964. The eloquent shape of the long neck is accentuated by the rounded body and painted design at the shoulder. Maria Martinez began making pottery with her son Popovi Da around 1959. When Popovi started helping his mother with her pottery, he not only  painted the designs for her as his father use to, but he also fired the pieces. Popovi discovered that firing blackware at a higher temperature and for a longer time resulted in what has been called a gunmetal finish.  Popovi Da was the first to discover this, following in his mother’s footsteps of reinventing blackware reduction firing. Popovi Da also introduced the production of sienna colored ware and two-toned black and sienna ware.

Maria Martinez was born Maria Montoya in 1887/89 and is recognized as one of the most famous Pueblo potters of the 20th Century. She learned the art of pottery making from her aunt Nicolasa as a child and was considered an accomplished potter by her teens. She married Julian Martinez (1897- 1943) in 1904. Originally, Maria made pots and Julian decorated them in the contemporary polychrome style. They demonstrated this technique at the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis, where they sold their pottery for a dollar a pot. This was their first exposure to a broad audience of collectors. In 1907, Julian was hired to help with archaeological excavations on the nearby Pajarito Plateau. Among the polychrome ware discovered were also black ware shards, which Maria saw in 1908 and set out to re-create. By 1918, through trial and error and much experimentation, they perfected a technique of black on black pottery where the surface design was separated by a matte and polished surface. Maria made the pots and Julian did the decoration. Julian and Maria did not sign their early pottery but as their fame grew, they began to sign the work. Originally, only Maria signed the work because pottery was culturally a female occupation. Maria signed the work with just “Marie” from the early 1920’s until 1925, thinking it would sound better to western collectors. From 1925 until Julian’s death in 1943, they signed the work “Marie + Julian”. After Julian’s death, Maria’s daughter in law Santana took over the role of decorating, and the work she and Marie produced together between 1943-56 was signed “Marie + Santana”. In 1956, Maria’s son Popovi Da began working with her and around 1959, they were signing their work “Maria + Popovi” (or “Maria + Poveka”).


11 3/4″ height

7  1/2″ width


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