Tusayan Black-on-red

Tusayan Black-on-red stirrup vessel. Click the image to open the Tusayan Black-on-red gallery.

Tusayan Black-on-red is a type of Tsegi Orange Ware found in northern Arizona from the San Juan River to the Little Colorado and widely traded.

Archaeological Culture: Ancestral Puebloan

Date Range: Kayenta Heartland: A.D. 1045-1240 (Christenson 1994), Flagstaff Region: A.D. 1065-1200 (per Christian Downum, Northern Arizona University).

Construction: By coiling.

Firing: In an oxidizing atmosphere.

Core Color: Black to gray, dark brown (rare) to brick red.

Carbon Streak: Common.

Temper: Sand and sherd.

Surface Finish: Bowls sometimes bumpy; polished, horizontal polishing marks conspicuous around vessel; both surfaces bowls, exterior surface jar forms slipped; slip generally thick with temper extruding; slip flakes off large areas of heavily weathered sherds leaving core mottled with temper; slip frequently weathered away.

Surface Color: Red; interior jar surfaces sometimes gray to tan; color surface and core contrast.

Forms: Bowls, canteens, seed-jars, jars (rare), dippers.

Vessel Thickness: 3.1 to 6.7 mm; average 5.0 mm (jars); bowl walls uniform thickness; 2.7 to 5.7 mm; average 4.5 mm (seed jars).


  • Paint: Black, occasionally reddish brown, generally dull, flat, rarely metallic sheen often reflects light, frequently takes off excessively weathered specimens.
  • Pigments: Manganese.
  • Design: Geometric, rarely encircling lines under rim, motifs usually pendant from rim, rim sometimes painted all around, sometimes only where motif is pendent. Narrow and wide lines only, straight or wavy, horizontal or diagonal in squares, triangles or curved panels; horizontal encircling vertically or diagonally in series; hachure and frame lines about same width in the Dogoszhi style.

Comparisons: Medicine Black-on Red usually has solid areas for decoration, rarely narrow lines, never hachures. Middleton Black-on Red has sand or rock temper.

Other Names: Proto-Kayenta (Tusayan) Black-on-red.

Compiled from the following sources:
Christenson, Andrew. (1994) A Test of Mean Ceramic Dating Using Well-Dated Kayenta-Anasazi Sites. Kiva 59(3).

Colton, Harold S. (1956) Pottery Types of the Southwest. Museum of Northern Arizona Ceramic Series No. 3. Flagstaff, Arizona

Compiled by:
April Peters, Northern Arizona University Anthropology Laboratories.