TYPE: Saguaro Polychrome

DATE: A.D. 1125-1450 (Wallace 1995;465) (see comments)

COMMON FORMS: Basically the same as Tanque Verde Red-on-Brown. Known forms are bowls, platter bowls, jars, ollas, and seed jars.

COMMON BACKGROUND COLORS: Brown, black, or both. Rarely buff slipped.

TEMPER: Usually sand.


DESIGN PLACEMENT: Basically the same as Tanque Verde Red-on-Brown.

COMMON DESIGNS: Saguaro Polychrome has typical Tanque Verde Red-on-Brown designs usually with the addition of white lines and/or dots. White lines and/or dots were often used to outline common Tanque Verde red painted designs although independent white lines and dots exist also. White painted motifs that are found on Saguaro Polychrome vessels are: thick and thin lines, wavy lines, chevrons, dots, ticks, and fringe.

Some examples have polychrome crosshatch designs. Usually the red lines were painted first in a diagonal hatched fashion, then opposing white diagonal hatch lines were painted over the red to create a polychrome crosshatch design. Other examples had red crosshatching, then white diagonal hatching was painted over the red cross hatching.

There are also examples of alternating or opposing red and white lines, dots, ticks, fringe, chevrons, and/or connected chevrons that form star designs. These alternating or opposing red and white designs can be reminiscent of Tanque Verde Polychrome designs. Many Tanque Verde Polychrome vessels had large opposing red and black motifs such as solids and rectilinear scrolls. However, no examples of large opposing red and white motifs have been found in Saguaro Polychrome designs.

Dots were also used to fill negative circles and panels, and also painted in rows to form lines or chevrons if you “connected the dots”.

COMMENTS: Sherds of this type was first somewhat described by Eleanor P. Clarke (Clarke,1935:50-51) and wrote that it “perhaps might be called Hohokam Polychrome”. William L. Deaver was the first to suggest the name Saguaro Polychrome, and wrote, “the name being taken from Saguaro National Monument where the type was first recorded” (Deaver,1989:57-58).

Design placement is the same as on Tanque Verde Red-on-Brown, quite often including polychrome decoration on the interiors of smudged bowls. Respectfully, Deaver’s logical assumptions that white paint on a smudged black surface is “not possible” or “non-viable” were incorrect (Deaver 1989:39).


Color Key: Red=Paint, White=Paint, Buff=Buff Slip,

Black=Grey or Black Smudge, Brown=Natural

Primary Design Field, Secondary Design Field

Red and White-on-Brown, Red and White-on-Black (most common)
Red and White-on-Brown, Red-on-Black

Red and White-on-Black, Red and White-on-Brown

Red and White-on-Brown, Red-on-Brown

Red and White-on-Black, Brown
Red and White-on-Buff, Red and White-on-Black
Red-on-Buff, Red and White-on-Black
Black and White-on-Brown, Red and White-on-Black
White-on-Brown, Red-on-Black (This variety listed in Deaver 1989:59)


                       1N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome Shallow Bowl (ca. 1125-1450)

Interior design consisting of an offset quartered layout with four thick line interlocking rectilinear scrolls.  Two of the scrolls are outlined with white lines or dots, and

the other two have white lines or dots between (not outlining) the thick red lines. The exterior is

painted with connecting triangles that form a large negative star.

Inside the triangles are multiple lines along with ticked thick lines.

Approximate Dimensions: 10 1/8" or 15.5cm by 3" or 7.5cm.



2N Rare varieties of Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome Bowl Sherds (ca. 1125-1450)

Smaller sherd has a Red-on-Buff exterior, while the larger sherd has Red and White-on-Buff exterior. Both sherds have Red and White-on-Black interiors.


3N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome Bowl Sherds (ca.1125-1450)

These sherds likely belong to the same vessel.

Red and White-on-Brown exterior, Red and White-on Black interior.



4N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome Miniature Shallow Bowl Sherds (ca. 1125-1450)

likely belonging to the same vessel.  Primary interior design Red and White-on-Black, large secondary design on exterior is Red and White-on-Brown.



5N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome Seedjar Sherd (ca. 1125-1450).

Red and White-on-Black with no interior design (probably due to the seed jar form.)



6N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome Sherd (ca.1125-1450)

Showing polychrome crosshatch motif. Red lines were painted first, then white lines were painted over the  red creating a polychrome crosshatch motif. The interior of this sherd has alternating red and white lines painted on a black smudged background.

7N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome Sherds.

Both of these sherds had red crosshatch motifs painted first, then white hatched lines were painted over the top of them. The sherd on the right doesn't show the white paint, if you look closely you can see where the white paint was. Apparently the white paint binds well onto the red paint, and over time the white paint and just the red it was painted over, eroded away.


8N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome Sherds (ca.1125-1450).

These sherds show the most common color combination for Saguaro Polychrome,

Red and White-on-Brown exteriors, Red and White-on-Black Interiors.



9N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome Sherds (ca. 1125-1450)

Three pairs of sherds likely belonging to three vessels.


10N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome Sherds (ca.1125-1450).

Sherds possibly belonging to the same vessel. This variety has a Red and White-on-Brown exterior,

and a Red-on-Black interior.


11Y Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome Bowl (ca. 1125-1450)

This bowl has a Red and White-on-Brown exterior, and a Red-on-Brown interior.

Approximate Dimensions: 3 1/2" by 3"


12N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome (ca. 1125-1450) bowl exterior sherds.


13N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome (ca. 1125-1450) olla sherds, likely belonging to

the same vessel. This olla had a red "checkerboard" design with white painted inside some

of the negative spaces.  It also has a large white band painted on the neck.


14N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome (ca. 1125-1450) olla sherds. Top left sherd is a tall-neck rim sherd with what appears to be a design of nested alternating red and white chevrons.  The bottom sherd shows an independent white line with alternating red and white fringe attached to the line.

15N Hohokam Saguaro Polychrome (ca.1125-1450).

This large olla sherd (Red and White-on-Buff variety) has a curious short red line arising perpendicular

to a panel of rectilinear scrolls, and has a large white dot attached at the end of the line.



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