New Mexico. Mimbres, Mogollon Culture. Bowl depicting a mythological scene of a crane swallowing a decapitated human head. 12.7 x 22.9 cm. CE 950-1150.
Mimbres Black-on-White is perhaps the most recognizable of the southwestern types of pottery, most likely because it is the only type which consistently bears figural subject matter. Animals, insects, fish, humans and mythological subjects are common. These beasts are usually highly conventionalized, and often resemble those found in pictographs, or rock art. Though many have studied these figures, no one has provided a convincing explanation of their meaning.Geometric motifs are just as common. These usually consist of a band of decoration extending partway into the bowl. Some bowls have allover decoration. Fine lines and relative intricacy distinguish this type from the earlier Mangas Black-on-White.