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Cue description & comments

The Lonesome Gods: Mimbres of the Mogollon

The third cue from the left in the adjacent photo was submitted as Bender Cues' entry for the 2009 International Cue Collectors Show (Santa Fe, New Mexico) "Native American Collection".

Artist's Statement

I chose the Mimbres’ beautiful black and white pottery as a design motif for the Bender Cues contribution to the 2009 ICCS Native American Collection. 

Each engraved circular shape in the cue is my rendering of the top-view of a bowl made between 1100 and 1300 AD by the Mimbres people who lived south of the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.    

The Mimbres’ pottery is significant in at least two ways.  First, in my mind, its sophisticated use of composition, often asymmetrical, rendered in fine and sensitive detail, lifts it head and shoulders above its contemporaries.  Second, apparently, the Mimbres did not use their pots for trade goods, so their pottery stayed where they lived and did not migrate to influence the designs in neighboring cultures.  These bowls have often been found with a small hole carefully punched out of the bottom, inverted over the head of skeletal remains, but wear on the inner surface suggests that they weren’t simply ceremonial objects.   

Shortly after 1300, this culture stopped producing pottery and disappeared.  It is not clear how they died out.  No mass burial sites have been found as would be expected if they had been wiped out by disease.  No battle grounds or signs of hurried departures have been identified as would be expected if they had been overcome by an aggressive neighbor.  The artists who made the pottery did not migrate to a new location and begin making their designs again, as the pottery only seems to be found in the one area.  This mysterious disappearance of an artistically advanced people has intrigued me for some time. 

The name of this series comes from two sources.  When I was in high school, I read a Louis L’Amour novel called The Lonesome Gods.  In it, a character pondered the idea that, when a culture dies out, the gods created by that culture are left behind, abandoned, and inhabit the anonymous shrines and artifacts which survive the culture’s passing.  The second part of the cue’s name refers to the fact that the Mimbres were both cultural descendants of the Mogollon People and that they resided in the Mogollon area of Arizona and New Mexico.

Although I am by no means an expert on  Mimbres art and have no scholarly insight into their cultural passing, I would like the artwork on the “Lonesome Gods: Mimbres of the Mogollon” series to be considered as a gesture of my deep admiration and respect.

       - Tracy M. Dunham, Bender Cues
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Last modified August 12, 2010