Published on June 30, 2011 by Amy
The Caddo Indians of the Southern Plains who lived in Texas, Oklahoma, Lousiana, and Arkansas, have developed distinctive art forms over the years. Although the Caddos are well known for their woodcarving and basketry, they are most famous for their pottery.
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Caddo pottery artifacts have been found in the Southern Plains and these artifacts have helped researchers to trace the history of the Caddos back to about 900 AD.
In 1542, Hernando de Soto ran across the Caddos during his expedition, noted their beautiful furniture and pottery.
In the 1930s, mounds in Texas were discovered to contain both skeletons and Caddo pottery. Many of these artifacts have been displayed at the University of Texas. Besides helping anthropologists, these articles have helped modern Caddo artists to revive some of their culture’s ancient artistry.
The Caddo Indians have probably been carving wood for as long as they have been making pottery, but unfortunately, wood rots fairly quickly in Caddo territory, so older artifacts are hard to come by. The Caddo created beautiful furniture, chests, and bowls, as well as wooden mask for ceremonies.
In the Red River Valley area of Louisiana, Caddo basketry artifacts have been found that date to about 1500 AD. Not many basketry artifacts have been recovered, however, for the same reason that not many woodcarving artifacts remain: they don’t hold up well against the elements.
Although Caddo pottery served very practical purposes, it features artistic form and craftsmanship. The art of making pottery was handed down from mother to daughter, but it’s clear that each artist used her own creativity because there are so many variations in style and design.
Flared rims and gracious curves are often seen in Caddo pottery. There are also linear designs on the outside of the pottery as well as feather and diamond shapes. The pottery is generally very sturdy.
The oldest art produced by the Caddo Indians was found in Lousiana, which indicates that they originated there. Newer artifacts have been found in Oklahoma and Texas, indicating a migration west.
The Caddo Indians are a confederation of roughly 30 tribes that shared the same language. Today, Caddo artists live mainly in Oklahoma. There are several Caddo galleries and art museums in Oklahoma and Texas. The University of Texas at Austin has featured Caddo art in exhibits on its campus.
With the discovery of ancient Caddo artifacts, modern Caddo artists have been rejuvenated by their ancestor’s works. Some Caddo artists, as well as non-Caddo artists who are inspired by Caddo art, have developed new techniques that mimic ancient artifacts. These modern pieces sell well in the marketplace, creating a larger supply of items for collectors who cannot afford antique pottery.
Archaeologists have uncovered many types of Caddo pottery vessels. There are bottles, bowls, and urns. These vessels are decorated in a myriad of ways. Caddo pottery may have cross-hatching, imprinted shapes, pinched ridges, appliques and even fingernail impressions. They may be small or very large, and they may have a rough surface or be very smooth and shiny. These differences in form and function are evidence that Caddo artists used their originality and creativity.