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CORRUGATED: Something formed or made into wrinkles, ridges, or grooves. Corrugated pottery is usually corrugated on the exteriors of vessels with the interiors being smooth. Very rarely are vessels corrugated on the interiors, only two examples are currently known. One is a Mogollon Tularosa Fillet Rim bowl with a "normal" exterior fillet rim, and a smeared corrugated smudged interior. The other is a Salado Red bowl with a plain corrugated and blackened interior.


Mogollon Tularosa Fillet Rim Variant

Salado Salado Red Variant

Many corrugated vessels appear lightly to moderately smoothed or polished over the corrugation. Even though corrugated pottery was made with wet clay, many vessels appear dry and rough. Some ceramicists may consider the "polished" and non-polished examples as varieties, but most do not differentiate them as there are several levels of polished, rubbed, or smoothed examples. Below is a list of descriptions of the many styles or varieties of corrugation:

Clapboard: Coils are pushed down over lower coils and appear to "hang over" each other in profile.

Clapboard Corrugated Sherd


Profiles of Clapboard Corrugated Sherd

Coiled: Coils appear stacked on top of each other, are round in profile, and have nothing externally done to them. AKA: Plain Corrugated.

Coiled or Plain Corrugated

Festoon: Indented corrugation that appears wavy. Coils appear to have been pushed down at both ends of the "waves". Indentions are usually widely spaced and in somewhat vertical alignment.


Fillet: Fillets are narrow bands, so fillets and corrugation are one and the same when talking about pottery. Fillets in some Mogollon pottery descriptions describe narrow bands of fine corrugation such as Tularosa Fillet Rim. Tularosa Fillet Rim have a few to several "fillets" of fine indented or clapboard corrugation near the rims of bowls. In at least one publication Fillets are described for certain Cibola Neck Corrugated types (Hays-Gilpin, 1998;122) these are coils that have been flattened although photographed sherds of some of these appear not to be flattened, but have rather plain round coils (Hays-Gilpin, 1998;126).

Mogollon Reserve Fillet Rim Sherds

Flattened: Coils that have been flattened and do not "hang over" each other as Clapboard Corrugation does.

Flattened Corrugated


Profile of Flattened Corrugated

Grooved: Coil junctures are grooved. Varieties: Plain or Flattened.

Flattened and Grooved Corrugated

Profile of Flattened and Grooved Corrugated

Flattened and Grooved Corrugated


Grooved Plain Corrugated

Grooved Profile

Indented: Coils are indented usually with the end of the finger, fingernail, or a tool. Usually it is indented clapboard corrugation, rarely indented flattened corrugation. Indentions can be shallow or deep.

Indented Corrugated

Flattened Indented Corrugated

(rare bowl sherd, approx. dimensions: 2 5/8" by 2 1/4")

Obliterated: Technically misnamed, currently in the pottery world it means smeared or partially obliterated corrugation (totally obliterated corrugation is smooth plainware). For a vessel to qualify as obliterated or smeared variety compared to corrugation that has been smoothed or polished over, it must have many partially obliterated coil junctures or many areas that are totally obliterated. Some vessels may almost be completely obliterated. There are two varieties of smeared or obliterated corrugation: Clapboard and Indented.

Smeared/Obliterated Clapboard Corrugation

Smeared/Obliterated Indented Corrugated

Smeared/Obliterated Indented Corrugated

Patterned: Angular (rarely curvilinear) motifs of one type of corrugation in another type of corrugation. usually indented corrugated motifs in clapboard corrugation.

Mogollon Tularosa Patterned Corrugated

Plain: (see coiled)

Smeared: (see obliterated)

Spiral-Rub: Ridges are formed while indenting the corrugation, these ridges run from the bottom to the top of the rim in a spiral pattern and they have been rubbed or polished over.

Reserve Corrugated Spiral Rub Variety (Safford Regional Variety)

Wavy: (see festoon)

Zoned: Banded segments of at least two different kinds of corrugation usually clapboard and indented. Occasionally punched bands are included, usually at the rim.

Mogollon Tularosa Zoned Corrugated


FIRE CLOUDS: Black coloration areas on the outside of the pot. Usually proof that the pot has been fired traditionally and not in an electric kiln. With historic and contemporary pottery, some collectors consider fire clouds less desireable, while others value them as evidence that the vessel was handmade.


HANGING HOLES: Drilled holes on either side of the rim used for the suspension or hanging of a vessel. These are not to be confused with sew-holes that are used in repair (See definition of Sew-holes below).

This Effigy vessel has two pair of hanging holes on opposing sides of the rim.


PAINT: Vegetal, Carbon, or Organic paint are pigments from plants, most often the Rocky Mountain Beeweed or the Tansy Mustard plants are used. Mineral paint is pigment from finely ground iron hematite or manganese mixed with a binder, such as water or an organic medium.


Vegetal Paint                                                                                Mineral Paint

Lines usually appear blurry or watery                                                         Lines usually appear sharper

REGIONAL VARIETY: Referring to a paste recipe, usually a single ingredient of the temper that is known only to have been produced in a specific region of a known type. A slightly different surface finish or color may be considered a variety, as well as core color. Note, a different ingredient of temper easily observable on the surface of an unbroken vessel may constitute a different type, an ingredient of temper not easily observable on the surface of an unbroken vessel is considered a variety.


SCHEME: Refers to the planned decoration of a vessel. Such as painted design, as well as the background color that a design may or may not be painted on.


SEW-HOLES: Ancient repair of a cracked or broken vessel. Either during use or manufacture a vessel cracks,

to save the piece for continued use it is drilled on both sides of the crack and then wrapped thru the holes with fiber or sinew.


Interior                                                                                              Exterior

This vessel had cracked during firing or use and has one pair of sew-holes.


A vessel can have more than one pair of sew-holes in the repair.

This bowl had broken completely in half and has four pairs of sew-holes.

SLIP: is a fine clay, mixed with water, often applied by hand and stone polished onto the surface of a vessel.  Usually slip is applied to decorate the vessel with a good background color, as well as to cover the coarser paste, filling voids and giving the vessel a smoother surface. Slips can be applied thick (often one or two millimeters) however, when applied by brush, they can be paper thin and can be difficult to distinguish from unslipped polished surfaces.  Usually a slip will cover an entire design field and often the entire vessel. An argument could be made that some "slips" are actually paints because they can be thin and watery, like paint, and were applied with a brush.

SMUDGE: An intentional form of decoration where the potter polishes a surface of a vessel (usually the interior of a bowl) and then blackens it by firing the vessel with fuel in direct contact with the polished surface.

STYLE: Referring to painted designs or corrugation on a vessel.

TRAILING LINES: Curved lines painted on the exteriors of bowls in spaced intervals. Although zigzag and squiggle lines are occasionally painted instead of curved lines. Trailing lines are common on many Hohokam types.

Hohokam Canada del Oro Bowl with Exterior Trailing Lines


VARIANT: Manipulation in surface finish, or background colors (slips) may be considered variants. Paint colors that are not normally seen on a design field may be considered variants. For example, a Salado Pinto Polychrome normally has a Black-on-White interior, and an all red exterior, anything other than this normal design scheme or layout is considered a variant. Such as a pink or orange (salmon) interior, a black-on-red exterior, or a white-on-red exterior, are all variants.

WARE: A group of pottery types which share many of the same attributes.

WHEEL THROWN: Made on a potter's wheel. The majority of the Native American tribes that produce pottery do not use this technique as it is not traditional. However, the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo of El Paso, Texas have been known to make some of their pottery this way starting in the early 1970's for the tourist market. Notice in the photo below the spiraling of the clay produced by the fast turning of a potter's wheel in the interior of this jar.





This page last revised: 07/01/2011

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