Painting Styles

We are now entering the dangerous area of "styles". As an art historian, I am drawn toward such visual distinctions, despite the fact, (or perhaps because of it!), that archaeologists have largely avoided them. In the literature I have encountered occasional references to styles, usually either oblique - "it has Sosi-like decoration" - or overt, such as Cunkle's seemingly self-invented styles. One of the real dangers is that a single painting style - defined here as a consistent system of decoration - may be found across several pottery types, and within a single type several styles might be found. This suggests a serious weakness in the current system of classification. 

A classic example is Cibola White Ware, in particular, the Gallup, Escavada, Puerco and Reserve types. All four types have the same physical characteristics - only the painted decoration varies. In the most recent Ceramic Series publication, Prehistoric Ceramics of the Puerco Valley, the following remarks appear regarding these types: "Small sherds of Reserve Black-on-white that lack an opposing solid element would be classified as Gallup...Small sherds of Reserve Black-on-white that lack an opposing hatched element would be classified as Escavada Black-on-white. Small sherds of Puerco and Gallup designs with solid elements could also be placed in Escavada Black-on-white...The 1958 Cibola White Ware Conference recommended using Puerco Black-on-White as a late Pueblo II type encompassing Puerco, Gallup and Escavada styles, defined as varieties. Although logical and efficient for organizing chronological data, this system has not caught on, and most researchers continue to equate each design style with a separate type." To an art historian, this is the equivalent of attributing the many different styles that Picasso worked in to different artists. 

As problematic is the Reserve type. At the Starkweather Ruin, numerous vessels were unearthed in an unbelievably diverse number of styles, and all were classified as "Reserve" because they all appeared to be locally made. Should these be considered different types, or the same type but different styles? I have leaned toward the latter. 

So, in short, I have defined a ware as a types that share common paint, paste, temper and firing technique; a type as pottery that shares surface treatment and chronological position; and style as the system of painted decoration. A type can still have a number of styles associated with it, and a style might be found across several types. Thus, I will refer to such names as "Reserve Black-on- White, Red Mesa Style", and "Red Mesa Black-on-White", the only difference being chronological.

Hopelessly confused? Well, a clear understanding of the painting styles will certainly help. And once you know the styles, you'll be able to see how they fit into the scheme of things as we move into the various types.


Anasazi and Mogollon Styles

BASKETMAKER STYLE
BASKETMAKER III

Simple designs often resemble patterns created in baskets. Elements include ticked lines, dot-filled bands, ticked solid triangles and sawtooth lines, all haphazardly arranged in the vessel.

WHITE MOUND STYLE
EARLY PUEBLO I

Elements are the same as in the Basketmaker Style, but are more carefully executed and arranged into more regularized compositions.

KANA-A STYLE
LATE PUEBLO I

Banded designs of parallel lines and concentric rectilinear forms, executed in very short, choppy strokes.

KIATUTHLANNA STYLE
LATE PUEBLO I

A radial style which is more rim-based, with pendant triangular elements lined with multiple parallel lines stairstepping their way around the vessel.

RED MESA STYLE
EARLY PUEBLO II

A combination of banded parallel lines and interlocking dot-lined scroll triangles.

PUERCO STYLE
LATE PUEBLO II

Designs are either arranged in multiple bands, or panelized within a single band. Panels are separated by multiple parallel lines. Hatching is not used and designs are composed of bold, zigzag elements.

WINGATE STYLE
LATE PUEBLO II

The first combination of interlocking solid and hatched elements. Motifs are rectilinear or angular, and hatched elements are larger than solids. Designs tend to be confined to bands.

HOLBROOK STYLE
EARLY PUEBLO III

Composed of interlocking solid-line key elements. Dotted triangles and barbed lines are common. Designs are arranged in bands framed top and bottom.

SOSI STYLE
EARLY PUEBLO III

A bold-line revision of the Holbrook Style, lacking dotted elements and focusing on paired barbed lines and bold-line triangular key elements.

CHACO STYLE
EARLY PUEBLO III

Hatched bands that are not paired with solid elements are diagnostic of this style. Hatching is oblique and usually narrower than the framing lines. Hatching grows finer and more closely spaced over time.

RESERVE STYLE
EARLY PUEBLO III

Balanced solid and obliquely hatched elements, usually interlocking. Hatched areas slightly larger than solids. Designs are more radial than the Wingate Style, and not limited to bands.

SNOWFLAKE STYLE
EARLY PUEBLO III

Interlocking solids, with lines intersecting at right angles characteristic of this style. Elements tend to be arranged as tiles, often alternating in diagonal patterns as if woven.

TULAROSA STYLE
LATE PUEBLO III

The hallmark element of this style is the stairstep- and-scroll motif. Hatched elements are larger than solids, and longitudinal hatching is prevalent.

KAYENTA STYLE
LATE PUEBLO III

Negative-painting prevails, where bands of paint are used to create the ground, with the slip color showing through to create the designs.

PINEDALE STYLE
PUEBLO IV

Pendant triangles and Y-band layouts are characteristic. Triangular areas often have parallel lines framing a band of corbeled lines.

FOUR MILE STYLE
PUEBLO IV

The first deliberately asymmetrical style. A single element tends to fill the whole bowl, and is often a combination of stairstep and scroll motifs.


Anasazi and Mogollon Styles

MANGAS STYLE
PUEBLO I

As will be typical with Mimbres pottery, solid and hatched elements are irregularly matched. Line weight is heavy and designs are bold.

MIMBRES GEOMETRIC STYLE
PUEBLO I

Carefully executed, fine-line designs of mis- matched solid and hatched elements. The haphazard character of the designs contrasts strongly with the careful execution of individual elements.

MIMBRES FIGURAL STYLE
PUEBLO I

Highly stylized animal and human figures centrally placed. Bands of multiple fine lines usually border the rim.