Turtle-Lidded Jar



This prize-winning potter was born at Jemez Pueblo, but married into Zia Pueblo, and has won awards for Zia-style pottery since the 1980’s.

Most often, she collaborates with her painter-husband, Marcellus, producing the pottery that he then paints.

This graceful lidded jar is all her own, however, and something of a rarity.

The form flows beautifully, swelling at the shoulder and transitioning into a high neck.

It is adorned with classic Pueblo designs; a stylized bird on two sides, and another motif on the other two sides, all framed within curved arch forms.

Elizabeth’s own interpretation of the classic is a bit different: the birds are surrounded by long and tapered, cross-hatched elements that resemble cornucopias, while the two other sides  contain the Zia symbol of the sun, which has become the symbol of New Mexico.

These two Zias, as they are known, have graceful plant forms below and above, and a broad, stone-polished red band, overhead.

Scallops, with fine lines within, flowers and plant forms decorate the neck of the jar.

The lid is the really special part: it is footed, so it fits snugly into the neck of the jar, and the finial, or knob, is a high-domed, turtle, on four tall feet.

Everything is highly decorated: the dark red clay slip of the lid itself, with black, cross-hatched cornucopia (or are they chile peppers??) forms.

The beige turtle wears a painted red and black bird, and other motifs compatible with those on the body of the jar, on its back.

Turtles live near water, so are good luck symbols; plants and birds are also good luck for empty stomachs!

The whole was traditionally fashioned, from the clay, that was hand-gathered, mixed, coiled, smoothed, painted, partially stone-polished, and pit-fired, to the use of natural clay slips for the earthy warm palette.

The black paint comes from steeping wild spinach leaves, as if making tea, then painting with the brew.

Finely shaped, with a design inspired by tradition, and full of good luck, this is a marvelous piece of pottery: flawlessly made, graceful, yet with an appealing folk-art look.

Large enough to grace a table, fine for shelves, or mantels as well, this is an uncommon piece by a much-awarded potter, on her own.

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