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Native American Bowl

Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
earthenware with sealing wax
HOA 3 1/2; DIA 8 3/4
Accession Number:
This bowl was made by members of the Catawba Indian Nation for trade in Charleston, South Carolina. Sherds of this pottery, according to Charleston archeologist Martha Zierden, are sometimes found in post-Revolutionary Charleston contexts.

William Gilmore Simms’ 1845 novel “The Wigwam and the Cabin” describes how members of the Catawba nation would travel downstream, set up near Edisto, and make pottery for sale in Charleston decorated with “sealing wax of all colors, green, red, blue, and yellow.” According to Simms, the pots “had their value to the citizens (of Charleston)”, and “were considered by most of the worthy housewives of the past generation, to be far superior to any other… it was a confident faith among the old ladies, that okra soup was always inferior if cooked in any but an Indian pot.”

The artist Joshua Shaw also remarked on the seasonal sale of Catawba pottery in Charleston. He described the pots as “a sort of earthen porringer… rude but useful,” that, “stands the fire better than any of the imported European articles of a similar kind.”

The bowl was found in a Charleston, South Carolina, privy context, on East Bay Street.
Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund