Bowdoin College Museum of Art Acquires Collection of Rare Anasazi Ceramics

Anasazi Bowl, ca. 1000.  Anonymous Gift. Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

Anasazi Bowl, ca. 1000. Anonymous Gift. Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

The Museum is excited to announce the acquisition of an outstanding collection of Native American ceramics. The collection includes thirty-seven bowls, ewers, ladles, and other objects that were created roughly a thousand years ago. The artists of these objects were Anasazi, the Navajo name for the “ancestral pueblo” peoples of the American Southwest. Beginning around the twelfth century BC, the Anasazi developed a robust agricultural society in this semi-arid environment, and are celebrated today for their remarkable architectural achievements. As seen in extant ruins at Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Canyon de Chelly in the Four Corners region, these multi-story dwellings were complex stone, earth, and timber structures, often situated against and within canyon walls. The Anasazi are also well-known for their distinctive ceramics tradition. They molded inventive clay forms, which they often painted with elaborate geometric patterns, animals, and figures that reflected aspects of their culture. The collection includes examples that feature snakes, birds, and a horned toad. In the thirteenth century AD, the Anasazi migrated away from their ancestral homes. Archeological research suggests that pressure from outside groups—together with the effects of a prolonged drought—forced them to leave. As the study of American art has broadened in the recent past to feature more varied artistic traditions from across the continent, this collection provides faculty and students with an invaluable teaching resource and the opportunity for further in-depth research on this important early American civilization. The collection is an anonymous gift from a member of the Museum’s Advisory Council.

thumb:Chinese, "Jar (Guan)," 3000-2500 BC, painted ceramic. Gift of George and Elaine Keyes in honor of Barry Mills. Bowdoin College Museum of Art.