Vessel in the Form of a Mountain Sheep

Ancestral Puebloan


Early Pueblo II Phase, 900-1040

Red Mesa black and white on grey

Overall: 4 3/4 × 5 13/16 × 7/8 in. (12 × 14.8 × 2.3 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Alexis Chapman Proctor, Class of 1918



Place Made: San Juan River area, United States, North America

Object Name


Research Area

Native American

Native American: Southwest

On view


As recently as 2017, this hollow animal-shaped container was identified as a bird. What led the museum to recognize that this vessel instead depicts a mountain sheep? In short, close looking at the object itself and consultation with many different experts. Analysis by a conservator revealed that the four round areas on the bottom of the animal’s body were once attachment points for feet that had been sanded or broken off. Anthropologists suggested that the shape of the mouth is not birdlike and identified curling horns on the back of the head.

The identification of the jar as a representation of a mountain sheep also helps pinpoint where it may have originated. Ceramics in the black-on-white style of this one were made in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico, a region that housed desert bighorn or mountain sheep. The cultural center of this area was Chaco Canyon, where fragments of similar jars have been found in excavations of the Great Houses, which feature up to six hundred rooms for communal activities such as rituals and feasts.

From the 2024 exhibition Ancient Narratives: A New Look at Old Art, curated by Ashley B. Offill, Curator of Collections

Course History

ANTH 11, NAS 11, Ancient Native Americans, Deborah Nichols, Winter 2013

Exhibition History

Arts Education Services, Peter Smith Studio, Wilson Hall, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.

Gene Y. Kim, Class of 1985, Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 22, 1994-January 14, 1996.

Global Cultures at the Hood: Ancient to Premodern, Gene Y. Kim Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26. 2019.

Globalization in Ancient Costa Rican Arts, Alvin P. Gutman Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, February 25-October 1, 2006.


Collected by Frank Proctor (1856-1924), Franklin, New Hampshire, about 1900; to his nephew Alexis Chapman Proctor (1895-1979), Franklin, New Hampshire, about 1924; given to present collection, 1967.

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