Maria Martinez is one of the most renowned Pueblo potters. She and her husband Julian invented the black-on-black firing technique, which creates contrasting matte and shiny dark surfaces. It is used to great effect on this vessel, highlighting the dramatic effect of the painted design. The couple worked as a team, with Maria building, shaping and polishing the pots, and Julian painting the surface. This design is called Avanyu, and represents a water serpent, an image that Julian adapted from ancient sources and used frequently. Water is precious in the desert and imagery associated with it carries power.