Brown Sgrafitto Olla

Aaron Cajero



Part of a prestigious pottery family of Jemez Pueblo (Walatowa) , Aaron is son of Joe Cajero, Sr. and Esther Cajero, and brother to Joe Cajero, Jr., among others. His daughter, Teri Cajero, is also a potter.

This appealing olla was made strictly in the traditional way, like all his pieces: hand gathered and mixed local clay; coiled, smoothed, sanded,     stone-polished, and etched, all by hand, and fired in an outdoor pit.

The delicious, warm chocolate brown of this finish was produced by smothering the fire with dried sheep, or horse manure, but leaving the body of the piece less affected, by the resulting chemical reaction, than the rim and bottom.

Etched with great clarity into the main body of the olla is a series of traditional symbols denoting good luck.

The circular and angular spirals refer to flowing water, and the river of life. Water is the source of life and very precious, in the arid southwest.

In between the spirals, graceful shapes resemble drops of water, tadpoles, and/or plants .

A textured band winds around the neck, and below the hip of the piece. These wavy bands refer to flowing water.

Even the rim of the olla forms a gently wavy shape, so the theme is integral – seen in every part of the olla.

All these symbols are very good luck.

One last symbol: those four, cross-shaped motifs that seem to radiate. They represent the four corners of the earth.

In the Native way, this symbolizes the wish that the blessings of water might extend everywhere, and to everyone.

So, not just a beautifully decorative piece of pottery, by a well-known artist, but one with a heartfelt message, too.

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