Pitchpot


In addition to the basket just described, the water bottle and carrying basket are the only other objects of wickerwork made by the Navaho. Tqoshje is probably a contraction of tqo, water, and yishje, it is closed with gum, from the fact that the wicker bottle or jar is covered with a layer of gum or pitch. These bottles are made of, or sewed with sumac, willow, or other pliable twigs, in the shape of a large vase with a rounded bottom, a globular body, and a long, narrow neck with a flaring rim. A small loop of plaited horsehair is woven into the jar at either side. An awl is the only instrument used, and no particular care is taken to weave very closely, as the jar is rendered water-tight by a covering of pine of pinon gum over the whole inner and outer surface. The gum is heated and poured into the jar, and by inclining and turning is brought in contact with the whole inner surface, after which the surplus pitch is poured off. A heated pebble is then thrown inside and vigorously shaken, which is said to remove any hardened lumps, and gives the interior a smooth surface. The exterior, too, is now covered with gum, which in addition is daubed with red clay to obtain a reddish hue. Any unevenness is then removed from the surface by pressing a heated pebble over it. These jars have no lid, but a bunch of grass or sage bark is stuffed into the neck of the jar to prevent the water from splashing out. A cord or rope attached to the loops on the sides of the jar is slipped over the shoulders, or across the forehead, with the jar resting on the small of the cask, so that it can be conveniently carried in this manner for a considerable distance. Their capacity is from one to two gallons, though the larger sizes have a greater capacity. They are not plentiful, and are being displaced more and more by the modern pail and bucket. Pgs. 297-298


In earlier days a waterbag was also used. This consisted of a piece of buckskin stretched over a hoop to form a bottom, with the ends of the buckskin brought upward and secured to a very small hoop for an orifice. It was called tqo azis, waterbag, or tqo abid, water paunch, as later the paunch of a cow or sheep was employed instead of buckskin. The modern bottle is tqozis. Pg. 298

An Ethnologic Dictionary of the Navaho Language; 1910, The Franciscan Fathers.