Navajo Pottery: Traditions and Innovations

Book Review: “Navajo Pottery: Traditions and Innovations” by Russell P. Hartman, Jan Musial and Stephen Trimble
Navajo Pottery Traditions and Innovations

“Navajo Pottery: Traditions and Innovations” is an insightful monograph that delves into the history, decline, and subsequent revitalization of the Navajo pottery tradition. The book, published by Northland Press in 1987, is authored by Russell P. Hartman, Jan Musial, and Stephen Trimble, with Hartman providing the text, Trimble contributing the photographs, and Musial acting as the general editor.

The book covers the time period from the 1850s to the 1980s, primarily focusing on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and the United States. It offers an in-depth analysis of the cultural and historical context in which Navajo pottery has evolved, from utilitarian pine-pitched water jars to exquisite works of art. The authors explore the lives and works of several contemporary Navajo potters, showcasing their exceptional skills and the diversity of their creations.

Hartman, curator of the Navajo Tribal Museum, does an outstanding job of placing pottery in the context of the tribe’s history and culture. He integrates quotes from 20 contemporary Navajo potters, offering an authentic glimpse into their experiences and perspectives. Trimble’s photographs capture the artists and their work with warmth and intimacy, adding a visual dimension to the book that complements the text.

The book is organized into nine chapters, each focusing on a specific aspect of Navajo pottery:

  1. The Navajo People: A Historical Overview
  2. Navajo Pottery: A Cultural and Social Perspective
  3. Navajo Pottery Technology
  4. Historic Navajo Pottery
    Includes Dinetah Gray, Gobernador Polychrome, Navajo Painted/Navajo Polychrome, Navajo Gray, and Pinyon Gray types of pottery.
  5. Decline and Survival of the Pottery Tradition
  6. The Revitalization of Navajo Pottery
  7. Contemporary Pitch-Coated Navajo Pottery
  8. Reaching Beyond Traditions
  9. Summary and Predictions

Through these chapters, readers gain an understanding of the artistic, cultural, and historical significance of Navajo pottery, as well as the factors that have shaped its evolution. This book is an essential resource for anyone interested in Native American art, history, and culture.

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Citation Styles


Hartman, R. P., Musial, J., & Trimble, S. (1987). Navajo Pottery: Traditions and Innovations. Northland Press.


Hartman, Russell P., Jan Musial, and Stephen Trimble. Navajo Pottery: Traditions and Innovations. Northland Press, 1987.


Hartman, Russell P., Jan Musial, and Stephen Trimble. Navajo Pottery: Traditions and Innovations. Flagstaff, Ariz: Northland Press, 1987.

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