A 900-year-old pottery pitcher comes home to Four Corners

For the months of June and July, Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum will feature a charming pitcher in its “New to the Edge” exhibit.

The pitcher appears to be a Mesa Verde white ware pottery type called “Mancos Black-on-white.”

This is a local type that is most abundant during the span of A.D. 1000-1100, and is probably the most common white ware found at the Edge of the Cedars, when its great house and great kiva flourished as a community center.

After the vessel was inadvertently purchased at a blind auction in Pennsylvania in the 1980s, the buyer had intended to return it to its original homeland.

Ultimately the purchaser left instructions to reinstate the vessel to its place of origin with his grandson, who recently donated the pitcher to Edge of the Cedars.

Though the exact location of the pitcher’s discovery is unknown, we know that Mancos Black-on-white pottery was commonly produced in the Mesa Verde region (including southeastern Utah).

Mancos Black-on-white expresses a wide variability in Pueblo II period technology and design. This pitcher utilizes mineral paint to create a barbed, interlocking scroll design.

Mineral pigment is created with finely ground, iron-rich rock mixed with water to create a brush-able paint.

Mineral paint rests on the surface, making it vulnerable to flaking as demonstrated by the lack of paint present on the pitcher.

The vessel appears to be unslipped, has a strap handle extending from the rim to the girdle, and has an indented base. The pitcher sits about six inches tall (16 cm) and five inches wide (14 cm).

Visit Edge of the Cedars Museum to appreciate this pitcher and the lengthy journey it made to come home to the Four Corners.

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