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Object Monday: Elmer Gates Effigy Vessel

Effigy vessel by Elmer Gates (MMA 2021.17.1)

Effigy vessel by Elmer Gates (MMA 2021.17.1)


This human effigy jar was created by Mojave (Mohave) potter Elmer Gates (1929-1990). The seated figure balancing a ceramic bowl on its head, is made of micaceous clay. Its face and body are adorned with red painted designs, complemented by blue and white glass bead earrings and necklace.

Elmer Gates was a celebrated Mojave potter, known for his human effigy vessels, frog figurines, and ceramic dolls. His pieces often featured elements and designs inspired by archaeological Hohokam ceramics.

Gates was born in 1929 and learned pottery making from his aunt. He lived on the Fort Mojave Reservation in Poston, Arizona and the Colorado River Indian Reservation. Gates trained several native and non-Native potters. He is one of the best known Mohave potters, with a unique and recognizable style. While many of his pieces were of of traditional Mojave forms, he used finer clays and more intricate painting than many of his contemporaries.

This piece was donated to the Maxwell Museum in 2021 by Mary and Dave Patino.

Reference: The Desert Southwest: Four Thousand Years of Life and Art by Allan and Carol Hayes (2006, pp. 140-144).

Name: Jar
Artist: Elmer Gates
Date: ca. 1970s
Culture: Mojave (Mohave)
Collection: Ethnology
Object: 2021.17.1
Post by: Lauren Fuka