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"Paint Pots"

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  • "Paint Pots"

    A search of online auction sites reveals a number of offerings for Native American paint pots. Any rock that nature has eroded into bowl-like structures are often construed as paint pots. Here is just a sample of rocks sold as paint pots by the knowledgeable and/or the uninformed. I bought these in the early years of my collecting and fortunately, spotting the seller's error and alerting him, he refunded my money and told me to keep the rocks. At least he was honest enough not to try and re-sell them, knowing what they were.

    Unless you can find/see evidence of pigments ground into the bowl, you are most likely looking at a natural formation created by turbulent water. In recent years folks here on the forum have shared some amazing finds they were convinced were NA artifact, only to be told that their finds were instead sculpted by Mother Nature, who is an amazing artist. We've seen faces, fetishes, runes, and writings, only to learn they were entirely natural, unaltered by man.

    I confess that if I spotted one of these tiny "pots" lying in or beside a creek, my heart would give a momentary leap, but on closer examination would be unable to prove any of these had been altered or used by man. Lesson learned!
    "Paint Pots"
    Last edited by Havenhunter; 10-22-2017, 08:48 AM.
    Child of the tides

  • #2
    Thank you for sharing this.
    Searching the fields of Northwest Indiana and Southwestern Michigan


    • #3
      Thanks Deb, I have picked up many natural stones with holes and dishes in them. You are right: Take a close look to see if the stone has been manipulated my man.
      Michigan Yooper
      If You Don’t Stand for Something, You’ll Fall for Anything


      • #4
        Good catch and reminder to be aware Deb.
        In life there are losers and finders. Which one are you?


        • #5
          Could've fooled me. Thanks for the advice and info Deb. But a question - wouldn't the paint be washed or weathered out of the pot over time???
          Pickett/Fentress County, Tn - Any day on this side of the grass is a good day. -Chuck-


          • Havenhunter
            Havenhunter commented
            Editing a comment
            In my research, most paint pots weren't pots at all, but chunks of material like iron oxide & ocher that they gathered & carried with them. As they used the pigments, they would eventually form depressions or bowl-like swales in the material. These are true paint pots.
            That's not to say NA didn't take advantage of what nature provided, and basin-like rocks did make dandy little vessels for grinding pigment remnants. Stone being porous, one would see grinding marks & some evidence of pigment deep within the substrate. Most so-called paint pots show no evidence of human use.

        • #6
          Great informative post Deb that makes a great point, one should never assume these type of natural Rocks are in fact artifacts unless found within the right context and display the signs of being used as such... Many of these natural type stones are readily available. In some areas they contain red pigments wich NA could harvest for paint. When found on a site there use is made evident by the scratches within the bowl from N A removing pigments clinging to the insides.

          Thanks for sharing this!
          Josh (Ky/Tn collector)


          • #7
            I just saw this ! Very cool little pots regardless .
            really nice that guy was open .