This beautiful vase was made by Rosa Real Mateo de Nieto, who signed her work "Doña Rosa." She originated the firing process that made this pottery black and glossy, in the town of San Bartolo, Coyotepec, Oaxaca, Mexico in the 1950’s. The color and gloss of the pottery, called "barro negro" (black mud in English), did not come from glaze or paint, but from the technique of polishing dried pieces with quartz and then firing them at a lower temperature for less time than other forms of pottery. This black pottery is purely decorative, not utilitarian, does not hold water and is more fragile than other types. Doña Rosa’s pottery was popularized in the U.S. by Nelson Rockefeller, who collected Latin American folk art. Although Doña Rosa passed away in 1980, her family continues to make pottery with the technique that made her the driving force of barro negro. The last photo shows her working on a piece of her pottery.
This vase weighs 2 pounds, measures 7 inches tall and 8 1/2 inches across at its widest point. With its narrow silhouette, it measures only 3 inches front to back and stands on a tiny oval base 3 inches by 2 1/4 inches. The designs that cover both sides are hand carved leaves, flowers and clusters of dots. Along the top rim is a double row of swags. It is fully signed by Doña Rosa as follows: