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Object Monday: Ceramic Canteen by Gwen Setalla

Gwen Setalla canteen (MMA 2017.29.1)


This polychrome ceramic canteen was made by Hopi artist Gwen Sharon Setalla in summer 2017 as part of the Chaco Heritage Project. Gwen Setalla is a potter from the village of Mishongnovi on Second Mesa in the Hopi Reservation of Arizona, and a member of the Bear Clan. She began learning the craft of pottery-making from her mother at the age of 5 and is now a master potter known for her seed jar, plates, and canteens.

Canteens with bulbous bellies and flat backs have been found dating back to the 1500s, and may have been based on Spanish-style canteens, later adapted by Pueblo potters. Traditionally, women used canteens to carry water from springs at the base of the Hopi mesas to mesa-top villages.

Gwen Setalla’s canteen features a corn cob stopper and a handle of hemp and waxed sinew. It is decorated on all sides, with black angular, maze-like designs on two sides and red animal depictions on the other two.

The Chaco Heritage Project was sponsored in partnership by the Maxwell Museum, Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies, the Chaco Culture National Historical Park Museum, and the Indian Pueblo Culture Center. The project, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts-National Park Service Imagine Your Parks initiative, invited Native Artists to engage with archaeological collections from Chaco Canyon to spark their creative expression. Through their residencies, artists were able to access ancient Chaco materials in the Maxwell Museum and the Chaco Culture National Historical Park Museum collections.

Name: Canteen
Artist: Gwen Sharon Setalla
Date: 2017
Culture: Hopi
Collection: Ethnology
Object: 2017.29.1
Post by: Erika Alvero

See: “Hopi Canteens,” Arizona State Museum online exhibit,

 And for information on Gwen Setalla, see