American Indian Pottery


29 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-88839-134-X






Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



The emphasis in this small book is on the pottery — historic and modern — of the American Southwest. Although it includes a sprinkling of examples from other areas — Missouri, Connecticut, Arkansas, Florida — the pueblo pottery of New Mexico dominates the work. There are no Canadian examples.

Wirt, an anthropologist, based her book on an exhibit she prepared for the American Indian Archaeological Institute in Connecticut. A large part of the work consists of photographs of pots in that exhibit.

The text covers the construction, firing, and decoration of Indian pottery (again, especially pueblo styles), as well as its use for mundane and ceremonial purposes. She stresses pottery as artistic expression, and the mysticism of using earth, fire, and water for a product that is both utilitarian and an art form.

There is a brief but informative section on pottery as an archaeological tool for tracing trade networks and social stratification.

While too abbreviated to have much value by itself, this booklet is a useful supplement to other, more comprehensive books on native pottery. To date, the literature available has been strong on text and weak on illustration. This work, while weak in text, contains a wealth of excellent photos and thus will add to any collection on North American material arts.


Wirt, Sharon, “American Indian Pottery,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed August 19, 2022,