Classic Mimbres Black-on-white bowl with geometric design

Mogollon -- Mimbres
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General Description

Mimbres potters developed one of the Southwest’s most appealing painting styles, distinguished by geometric compositions and narrative imagery that provides an eloquent record of Mimbres life. The painting on many Mimbres vessels suggests concepts of sacred space or cosmic geography. The edge of the bowl may have marked the boundary of an orderly world, while the center space, often empty and white, may refer to the Earth Center. Here two delicate spirals emanate from that center. The crosses suggest the four cardinal directions, and the jagged, angular forms convey the dynamic tension of lightning in a darkened sky.

Adapted from

  • Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Bowl with geometric design (1982.94)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 55.

  • DMA Label Copy, 1993.

Fun Facts

  • Named on "American Indian and Northwest Coast Top Ten List" (August 6, 1992), Steven A. LeBlanc, former curator at the Southwest Museum at Los Angeles.

  • This bowl stands out as masterwork in a distinguished collection of ceramics from the prehistoric Indian cultures of the Southwest. It appears reddish-brown due to oxidation which occurred during firing, and is an example of the early style probably dating to just around 1000 CE.