Papago Women with Ollas


Unknown Unknown inpa1107pa.jpg IN-PA-1107 B&W 1505.1107.0001 inpa1107pa Print 4x5 Historic Photographs 1890s Reproduction requires permission. Digital images property of SHM Library & Archives


Two Pima/Papago Native American Women standing in front of Wheeler and Perry Grocers on Congress Street in downtown Tucson, Arizona, carrying ollas in kiaha baskets.

The olla or  water jar appears to be the most-used article among the present-day Papago. Many were observed beneath the ramadas of the houses, sometimes suspended from the cross-beams, sometimes placed in three-forked logs set upright in the ground. The majority of those  now  used are of a plain,  unslipped earthenware in the natural color of the clay. Apparently  a thin reddish wash is sometimes applied to the exterior. Several large storage ollas of  a grayish or brownish buff, decorated in a brownish red and very suggestive of ancient Hohokam ware.

Kiahas, or burden baskets were made by Papago and Pima Indians. They were produced in a lace-like coil weave out of desert plants and were used as all-purpose carrying baskets. (Tanner, Clara Lee. “Papago Burden Baskets in the Arizona State Museum.” Kiva, vol. 30, no. 3, 1965, pp. 57–76. JSTOR,

When the Spanish came upon them, they called them Papago, but the people themselves have rejected this name and officially changed it to Tohono O'odham in the 1980s. Tohono O'odham means “Desert People.”


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