Anasazi ceramics as text and tool: Toward a theory of ceramic design "messaging".
AuthorHays, Kelley Ann.
Pueblo Indians -- Antiquities.
Indians of North America -- Southwestern, New -- Pottery.
AdvisorReid, J. Jefferson
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study illustrates the importance of finding out whether painted ceramics represent the total repertoire of decorated artifacts that are expected to carry social information. Painted designs on pottery are the focus of study because (1) painted decoration has had great importance in Southwest archaeology for studying social interaction, cultural affiliation, and fine-grained chronology based on stylistic change, and (2) painted decoration is less constrained by technology and intended vessel function than other attributes, and is most free to vary for social or ideological reasons. Two assumptions underlying previous work on ceramic design "messaging" are examined. First, are ceramics the most important medium for carrying social information? Second, is ethnicity the kind of information they are most likely to carry? These questions are addressed in a case study from the American Southwest. Decorated pottery, baskets, textiles, figurines, and rock art from the seventh century Basketmaker III period occupation of rock shelters in the Prayer Rock District, northeastern Arizona are examined. Comparison of design structure and content across these different media reveals two decorative styles, one for the portable household artifacts and one for rock art. In this case, pottery does not carry the full range of potential social information signalled by applied designs. The contexts of these two decorative styles are suggested by considering aspects of artifact function, design visibility, spatial distribution of artifacts, rock art, and architecture, together with hypotheses about gender differentiation and community organization. It is concluded that for the Prayer Rock Basketmakers, pottery decoration may have carried messages that had more to do with gender than ethnicity.