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Black on Black Mata Ortiz Pottery

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Black on Black Mata Ortiz Pottery

As a young boy wandering through the Casa Grandes or Paquime area of Nothern Mexico, Juan Quezada stumbled upon shards of ancient pottery. Some of these pieces were known as Ramos Black, which was a pure black prehistoric type of pottery, dating back to the Paquime culture from the 13th or 14th century.

In 1976, while shopping at a secondhand store in New Mexico, an anthropologist named Spencer MacCallum discovered three interesting handmade ceramic . Although they resembled ancient pottery native to the region, these pots were actually recently made. Spencer went out in search of the potters that created these intriguing “ollas”, or pots. He discovered they’d been made in a small Mexican village called Mata Ortiz, located in the mountains of the state of Chihuahua, by master potter Juan Quezada.

In 1978, MacCullum introduced Juan Quezada and his family to the world. He reported they’d successfully figured out the process of firing pottery so that it came out black on black. In 1980, Quezada spent some time in San Ildefonso with Maria Martinez discussing her techniques, and during the same time period, his sister Lydia began her own experimentation with fired blackware and produced the same effects she’d seen at San Ildefonso. This led to black-on-black pottery becoming a mainstay of Mata Ortiz.

Unlike San Ildefonso and Santa Clara ware which is thick, Casas Grandes Black-on-black pottery is both modern and antiquated, is thin, and is fired at a higher temperature. In fact, it is considered to be one of the thinnest of the Southwestern wares. The rounded bottoms of these beautiful pieces of pottery make these easily recognizable as Mata Ortiz made.