Ancient Navajo Pottery

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    Types and Uses

    • Ancient Navajo pottery was used for carrying water, storing grains and liquids and preserving seeds for planting. Pottery was unadorned, except for textures created by coils and pinches and little attention was paid to symmetry. Cooking pots were developed to sit on the rocks in open fires and water jars were given indented bases so they could be carried more comfortably on the heads of water gatherers.


    • While pottery was generally left undecorated, small symbols in clay were occasionally applied to vessels. However, what these symbols represented remains unknown. Ancient Navajo tribal society was tightly controlled and medicine men imposed strict regulations on the women who made pottery.

    Navajo Style of Pottery Making

    • According to the website alltribes, ancient Navajo pottery was fabricated in the coil and pinch manner and fire baked. Melted pitch made from pinon trees was rubbed in a thin coating over the inside and outside of each vessel before it cooled. This technique was unique to the Navajo. Modern-day Navajos continue this technique and do not grind up old pot shards to mix into clay powder for temper, as other tribes do. Navajos feel that old shards may belong to their forefathers, the Anasazi, and should not be used.


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