“Awatovi” Olla

Lawrence Namoki


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Lawrence Namoki is now an esteemed pottery artist. The path to this achievement was long and winding: son of a High Priest in the Hopi culture, he has been an apprentice kachina carver, acclaimed long-distance runner, college student, and Green Beret, before discovering pottery.

He has said, “As soon as I got ahold of clay myself, instantly some spirit entered and took control of my body.”

He taught himself the age-old art of pottery from his First Mesa home base, and major recognition followed, as soon as he thought he and clay felt comfortable with each other.

Now, he is considered to be one of the best contemporary Hopi potters, with a distinctive style of his own.

This perfectly formed olla exhibits some of the characteristics of the Namoki style: carving, two-toned clay, natural paint, a special finish that resembles wood, and designs that refer to Hopi tradition.

The inspiration for this piece is the ruined village of Awatovi, on Second Mesa of the Hopi, and the remains of decorations found there.

Painted with vegetal-based black paint, a series of petroglyph figures cling to the rounded sides of the pot.

In between, age-old symbols occur: the water spiral, the four directions of the world, rainfall (parallel lines) and tadpoles.

Water is a paramount blessing for the Hopi, who have no irrigation or waterways.

The wavy lines at the shoulder and rim refer to running water, also.

Varied in textures, finishes, and earthy colors, this olla is a typical example of Lawrence Namoki’s special style, for which he has become famous.

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