‘New to the Edge’ exhibit features ancient water jar

This olla, pronounced “oh yeah,” is on display at the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum until Feb. 1. Courtesy photo

During the first month of the 2020 decade, the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum features a graceful 1000-year-old water jar in its “New to the Edge” exhibit.

The water jar, or “olla” (a Spanish word pronounced “oh yeah”), represents the local pottery type Mancos Black-on-white, a type that spans about AD 950 to 1150. The jar was apparently collected from an alcove or cave setting in Devils Canyon (northeast of Blanding) during the 1950s or 1960s, but was donated to the Edge of the Cedars only just this last year.

“The painted imagery on this vessel is simple but presents a wonderful symmetry,” reads a press release from Curator of Collections Jonathan Till. “A set of four banded designs encircles the olla above its shoulder and on its neck: a band of pendant (upside down), solid-painted triangles at the top or neck; a band of pendant, dot-filled triangles just below the neck; a band of upright, hatchure-filled triangles below the dot-filled elements; and a band of upright, solid-painted triangles just below the shoulder.”

The design is executed with a dark brown mineral paint and the jar is about 11 inches wide and stands about 10 inches tall. Its narrow neck, about 3 inches in diameter, suggests the vessel’s use as a water jar or a restrictive storage vessel.

The jar will be on display at the Edge of the Cedars until Feb. 1. “And, yes, we’re hoping to evoke a little precipitation for the coming year through our presentation of this beautiful olla,” said Till.