to the Arizona State Museum’s
showcase of Nampeyo Pottery.
The Museum is proud of its collections attributed to the
renowned Hopi-Tewa potter Nampeyo (1860?-1942). Some of the attributions
are unassailably correct, while others are more uncertain. Since Nampeyo
never signed her pieces herself, the task of positively identifying her
works is daunting.
With her fame as a potter came a strong incentive for collectors and dealers to identify Hopi pottery as Nampeyo’s, whether they were certain she had actually made a given piece or not. Photographs depicting her with examples of her bowls and jars can be of assistance in helping to authenticate a given piece, but photographers who staged photos of Nampeyo may have included pottery that she did not make. To complicate matters, in her later years Nampeyo often worked in tandem; she would form the vessels and younger relatives, including daughters Annie, Fannie and Nellie, granddaughters Rachel and Daisy, and clan niece Lena Charlie painted them.
Some pottery in the collection is signed with Nampeyo’s name or is otherwise labeled as Nampeyo’s in writing directly on the piece. One piece has a gummed label, most likely a Fred Harvey Company tag, which reads: "Made by Nampeyo-Hopi." It is documented that her daughters at times signed her name to her work, and traders and dealers may have as well. Through publication of the "signatures", it is hoped that further insights on the past practices of labeling Nampeyo’s pottery can be gained.