TOHONO O'ODHAM BROWN ON TAN DISH circa 1880 or earlier
This is a major piece and an important piece of history. The years haven't treated its painted design kindly, but the dish is so well made that its surface is as sturdy as it was on the day it was made, and even here on the Internet, if you look closely you can see the elegance of the design on the front and the reverse. Beautifully finished pieces like this are so rare and so poorly documented that it's impossible to state for sure whether it's a Maricopa piece or a Tohono O'odham piece. One earlier owner thought it was Maricopa and put the sticker on the back. Initially we agreed and showed it as Maricopa in our The Desert Southwest, Four Thousand Years of Life and Art. However, this is the kind of piece that keeps us coming back, reexamining and requestioning. We decided it was O'odham after Carol studied the swirl design on the reverse. Both the O'odham and the Maricopa used it, but it first appeared on Tohono pieces. Years ago, one expert saw it and said, "This is the oldest Maricopa piece I've ever seen." It's obvious age had a lot to do with why we reassigned it. It's so old that we've come to believe that it's simply too old to be Maricopa.
10-3/4" diameter x 3-1/2" high
Condition is as you see it: unrestored and, except for the faded paint, in excellent condition