Monday, August 10, 2015

Caddo Pottery

Chase Kahwinhut Earles

I create my tribe's traditional pottery to help educate about and carry on the culture of my people. The once grand and widespread tradition of my people's Caddo pottery has now been reduced to a shadow of its former self and almost even disappeared completely. With the help of the only living Caddo pottery revivalist, I got started down the path of my artistic expression of our tribe's traditional pottery to help current and future generations of our people understand the beauty and craftsmanship and uniqueness of our ancient pottery methods and culture.

Born in Oklahoma, I have always been an artist as long as I can remember, from the day the art teacher in kindergarten pulled me aside to draw something for the school. From then on I was always drawing and painting, but until I found pottery I really didn't have a voice or a reason. Even as I decided to pursue pottery as a more hands on approach and a closer to earth approach to art, I was still lacking meaning. I had considered creating Pueblo pottery from the southwest as that is what had inspired me until I realized that because I am not a Pueblo native, I would be simply replicating Pueblo pottery and not truly creating it. That is until I connected with my tribe and my heritage and learned of the true grandeur of our tradition and how it has been lost and hidden from the public. I then set forth almost obsessively learning the methods and designs of our tribe, creating works of art that are modernized, to educate my tribe's people and the public about our tradition.

All of my tribe's ancient traditional pottery was hand coiled from clay that was handmade from the local river source, which most notably included the Red River and the Arkansas River. These pottery pieces are then hand burnished with a rock to look like glass without any glaze. The final touch before firing is the hand carving of the scrolling ancient designs which include motifs centered around the origin stories of my Caddo people. Objects in the motifs include feathers, serpents, the sun and moon, and the everlasting fire. What motivates me and challenges me to push the limits of describing our culture in my pottery art is the desire to truly educate people about what sets our tribe's tradition apart from all the other Southeastern tribes and to reveal to people the extent of which the Caddo's tradition was cherished by everyone across the nation in prehistoric and historic times.

Copy and photos from Caddo Pottery.

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