Fine pottery from Casas Grande, Mata Ortiz, northern Mexico, is made by descendants of southwestern Pueblo people who fled the return of the Spaniards, after the failed Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
This fascinating olla shows how they have mixed local, Latino culture with the inherited, traditional techniques of Pueblo pottery.
It was created from hand-gathered, -mixed, -coiled, -smoothed, and pit-fired, local and natural clay.
Beautifully shaped, with amazingly thin walls, it continues the traditional methods of their relatives in the north.
The design, is something else; very particular to our southern neighbor.
We celebrate Halloween, the eve of All Hallows Day, aka All Saints Day; in Mexico, it is called Day of the Dead, and spiritedly celebrates those who have passed on.
We like shivery scares; ghouls and goblins, black cats and skeletons.
In Mexico (and in New Mexico, for that matter), however, the dead are not scary, but amusing and fun.
Folk art revels in the antics of skeletons, in carvings, pictures and dioramas, even making sugar candies shaped like skulls.
On this olla, skeletons are happily cavorting about in a graveyard.
Some are fully dressed, and working with spade and pick-axe, fluttering a fan and carrying a handbag, while two others flaunt their unadorned bones.
Perhaps newly risen from the graves around them, one of these carries a large floral wreath, while the other is stretching exuberantly just above a grave.
The artist has carefully depicted a tree, the cacti, grasses, and flowers that grow in the area, as well as several graves, complete with names (!).
This good-natured grotesquerie is dynamically etched into the stone-polished clay, with precision and flair.
These energetic skeletons will make every day a funny one, in this beautifully executed pot.