Artwork Information

  • Title:

    Feather Design Bowl

  • Artist:

    Martinez, Maria (potter); Martinez, Julian (painted by)

  • Artist Bio:

    Native American, San Ildefonso, 1887–1980; Native American, San Ildefonso, 1879–1943

  • Date:

    about 1935–40

  • Medium:

    Blackware ceramic

  • Dimensions:

    4 5/8 x 8 1/2 inches

  • Credit Line:

    Wichita Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Loren E. Fred

  • Object Number:


  • Display:

    Not Currently on Display

About the Artwork

Maria Martinez’ Indian name, Poh-va-ka, has been translated as “Little Blue Corn Flower” by some authors and as “Pond Lilly” by others. As a child, Maria learned to make the traditional black-on-red and polychrome pottery of her pueblo from her aunt, Tia Nicolasa.

Maria was an excellent student and, by 1915, she had surpassed all other potters of the region in the skill and invention of her work. She is credited with the revitalization of the pottery tradition of the Tewa pueblo of San Ildefonso. At the end of the 19th century, pottery production in this area was a low level, with the women making vessels primarily for home use. The perfection and uniqueness of Maria’s work changed this. Her pottery stimulated trade with outsiders, and this eventually led to the growth and improvement of all the crafts of the pueblo.

Maria and her husband, Julian, invented the black-on-black ware around the year 1919. She was the potter and he was the painter. They kept the process a secret for a few years but later began teaching the other potters how to make it. San Ildefonso is now famous for the production of this particular kind of pottery.