Style 1 (Boldface)

Mimbres Boldface (Style 1) bowl from the Museum of Northern Arizona collections. Click the image to open the Mimbres Boldface gallery.

Mimbres Boldface, or Style 1, pottery is the earliest type of true Mimbres Ware.  Designs on this type tend to be bold geometrics, thus the name for this type.  Concentrated in southern New Mexico north to the Upper Gila, east to around El Paso, Texas, and south into Chihuahua, Mexico, this ware is also occasionally found as far west as west-central Arizona.

Archaeological Culture: Mimbres

Date Range: A.D. 750-950.

Construction: Coiling.

Firing: In a reducing atmosphere; firing atmosphere often variable; fire clouds common.

Core Color: Brown, red, buff, light gray, or dark gray; often variable in cross-section; always buff, brown, or red when refired.

Temper: Quartz sand or crushed quartz, volcanic rock, and/or sherds; often fine and rounded.

Surface Finish: Bowl exteriors smoothed (slightly bumpy), unslipped; interiors smoothed, white-slipped (chalky and often irregular), polished, painted.

Surface Color: White when slipped; when not slipped, grayish-brown, gray, or dark gray.

Forms: Bowls (predominate), jars, ollas, seed jars, effigies.


    • Paint: Red, black, or in-between; red when fired in an oxidizing atmosphere; black, gray, or gray-brown when fired in a reducing atmosphere ; frequently mottled or piebald from inconsistent firing atmospheres.
    • Pigment: Hematite.
    • Design: Primarily interiors, occasionally exteriors; bold geometric designs; large black-painted areas; wavy hatchure; wide areas of white between designs; decoration up to rim; layouts are circular, in quadrants, or full-field; most common motif are interlocking and non-interlocking scrolls extending to solid triangles; life forms rare; rim bands rare.

Comparisons: Cibola Paste/Mimbres Design: whiteware vessels painted with Mimbres designs, generally found in the Reserve area, Arizona and the Upper Gila Valley, New Mexico; typically unslipped. Early Style II remains bold, but has parallel straight-line hatchure instead of wavy lines. Later Mimbres types are more finely executed and typically have rim bands. The slip on Chupadero Black-on-white cannot be scratched with a fingernail.

Other Names: Mimbres Boldface, Mangas Black-on-white, Mangus Black-on-white.

Compiled from the following sources:
Barkwell Love, Lori. (2014) From the Inside: Paste Variation in Mogollon-Mimbres Ceramics from Woodrow Ruin in the Upper Gila, New Mexico. Presented at the 79th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Austin.

Scott, Catherine J. (1983) The Evolution of Mimbres Pottery. In Mimbres Pottery: Ancient Art of the Southwest, edited by S.A. Leblanc, pp. 39-68. Hudson Hills Press, Inc. New York.

Compiled by:
Meghann M. Vance, Northern Arizona University Anthropology Laboratories.