This article examines the uses and meanings of unaker, or “Cherokee clay”, among Cherokee and British potters, and between their respective political and cultural worlds, in the eighteenth century. By the time the British arrived in southeastern North America in the late sixteenth century, Cherokee peoples had been producing complex ceramics made with the fine white material rooted in the Cherokee value of kinship with the material world since time immemorial. Recognizing the potential value of this white clay, British colonists made efforts to possess unaker as part of the larger colonial project of dispossessing the Cherokee Nation of its land. In the colonies and in England, potters including John Bartlam and Josiah Wedgwood used unaker strategically within the intertwined projects of fashioning a distinctly British ceramics tradition and a racialized national identity rooted in mercantilism. This article uses evidence of Cherokee ontologies alongside the correspondence of British potters, eighteenth-century patents, and the analysis of specific wares to describe the contradictions in establishing a British imperial identity through the appropriation of an inherently Indigenous material. In illuminating unaker’s inalienable kinship with its Cherokee family even after its extraction from the ground, and into our present moment, this article suggests new approaches to the study of British and colonial decorative arts made with materials gained from the expansion of empire.
In October 1767 Cherokee leaders gathered at Keowee, a Cherokee Mother Town in the far northwestern corner of the British Province of South Carolina, to determine a pathway to peace with the Mohawk and other northern Indigenous nations. Their negotiations, however, were interrupted by a foreign visitor, the English merchant Thomas Griffiths.1 Griffiths had been hired by the potter and inventor Josiah Wedgwood to negotiate the purchase of five tons of unaker, a bright white mineral used by the Cherokee for millennia to make white ceramics and architecture (fig. 1).2 Known in the British Atlantic as “china clay” and in Mandarin as Gāolǐngtǔ, unaker was of great interest to Wedgwood and other English potters because of its potential to serve as an essential ingredient in the production of porcelain.3 Having gained an audience with the leaders at Keowee, Griffiths wasted no time in “request[ing] leave to travill through their Nation” to mine the white clay near the Cherokee town of Iotla, in present-day Macon County, North Carolina. His inquiry was met with resistance, as Griffiths later recounted to Wedgwood:
This they granted, after a long hesitation, and severall debates among themselves; the Young Warier & one more seem,d to consent with Some Reluctance; saying they had been Trubled with some young Men before, who made great holes in their Land, took away their fine White Clay, gave ,em only Promises for it.4
The Cherokee leaders went on to caution Griffiths that if he “should want more for the future, they must have some satisfaction for they did not know what use that Mountain might be to them, or their Children”.5 Mediated through Griffiths’s fundamental lack of understanding of Cherokee culture, this recounting nonetheless underscores the importance of unaker in Cherokee and British political and cultural entanglement in the early Atlantic world. Far from being a material of significance solely to British potters, unaker was first and foremost understood by the Cherokee as kin, indivisible from their land, imbued with aesthetic and spiritual significance even after its extraction from the earth, and as much a part of their future as of their past. As J. T. Garrett, an expert on Cherokee medicine, has recorded in his oral histories of modern elders from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), “Everything in this creation is kin to us”, and Cherokee people honor their relationships not only with plants and animals but also with the land itself.6 Particularly because neither of the authors is of Cherokee descent, we are indebted to conversations with Cherokee people, and to Cherokee scholarship, for guiding our decisions in how to handle information about Cherokee cosmology and ceremony with care and respect.7DOI
The Cherokee leaders’ message to Griffiths also contextualizes unaker’s use by British potters within the larger history of British land seizure and the appropriation of Cherokee resources in eighteenth-century North and South Carolina. It is likely that the “young Men” they referred to—who had come before Griffiths and given the Cherokee “only Promises” for their unaker—were a party led by Andrew Duché, a Quaker potter and trader who seems to have become aware of the mineral’s significance around 1737. In scholarship on British ceramics, Duché’s theft from the Cherokee and subsequent journey to England with samples of unaker is often given as the catalyst for a series of ceramic innovations involving unaker in the British Atlantic world: the first British patent for hard-paste porcelain, submitted in 1744 by Edward Heylyn and Thomas Frye; the first soft-paste porcelain made in the Americas by John Bartlam in South Carolina in the early 1760s; and Josiah Wedgwood’s invention of encaustic enamel and jasper in 1769 and 1774.8 However, there is a longer history, often overlooked, dating back to the arrival of the British in the southeast of the present-day United States, of devastating illness, territory loss, and purposefully destructive trade conditions for the Cherokee Nation instituted by the British, that also chronicles catalysts for these innovations. Because unaker was a symbolic material, crucial in Cherokee diplomacy, it was visible to the British in their earliest entanglements with Cherokee peoples, and British potters consumed the mineral within the same colonizing framework within which the British Empire expropriated Cherokee land.DOI
These potters’ experiments produced a series of ceramic innovations that, in their materiality, aesthetics, and subject matter, all articulated British Whiteness—that is, a specifically British construction of White racial identity.9 By enfolding unaker within material processes of refining the goods of empire, English potters participated in the mercantilism central to British identity in the eighteenth century.10 Producing clay bodies praised for their whiteness, and for decoration featuring narratives of empire, these ceramics evidenced British claims to exemplary Whiteness. Writers within the British Empire often linked this perceived White superiority to the rapidity with which British colonialists converted Indigenous lands into mercantilist resources.11DOI
In the past decade, settler colonialism and racial identity have been thoughtfully explored as motive forces behind the twinned production of British luxury goods and British imperial hegemony in the eighteenth century. Colonial commodities that shaped British decorative arts, including cotton and mahogany, have been analyzed for their human cost and role within the mercantilist economic system of the first British Empire.12 More recently, scholarship has argued persuasively for the centrality of Chinese porcelain and aesthetics to the construction of racialized British identity in the eighteenth century and beyond.13 Unaker, a material with transnational significance sourced from the appropriative project of British colonialism, remains an underexplored part of these histories. The mineral’s status as indigenous to another place and culture shaped both potters’ fascination with and use of the clay. Ceramics made with it—and the attendant travel, diplomacy, explorations, and innovations embodied in each object—were executed and designed to produce British dominance in art, culture, commerce, and ultimately systems of racialization through the profound exploitation of their colonies. The historical entanglements of British ceramic innovations with the project of colonizing the American southeast can be read, we argue, by triangulating Cherokee deployments of unaker, British ceramics made with unaker, and primary sources produced by settlers.DOI
Contemporary and historic scholars alike have often passed over unaker’s kinship with its Cherokee family, prioritizing instead the analysis of its refinement and use in ceramic production. However, in contending with unaker’s origins as a Cherokee material, whose relationship to its people should be sustained for generations to come, decorative arts historians and the broader public must consider unaker as inalienably Cherokee in itself. This relational way of viewing unaker disrupts the notion that British people “discovered” unaker as an inert and untouched mineral buried in the ground, making clear how it is neither epistemologically nor historically accurate to define the mineral solely as a raw and unacculturated resource in the colonial southeast prior to—or after—its being touched by White hands. Even when it is disappeared into a clay background on which colonial visions of Edenic paradise and heroic pasts are printed, unaker remains non-human kin to its Cherokee relations and the land. This concept of continual relationship, even when unaker has been removed beyond the physical bounds of Cherokee land, has the potential to trouble readings that seek to erase Indigeneity in more arenas than just materiality. A modern intervention led by Indigenous women in the history of Wedgwood’s engagements with unaker demonstrates the crucial need to reassess unaker from contemporary Indigenous perspectives.
Consuming Whiteness in Cherokee NationDOI
The appropriation of unaker in the eighteenth century followed a sustained investigation of southeastern Indigenous ceramics and white materials by English colonists dating back to their first settlement in the Americas, Roanoke Colony. In June 1585 an expedition of English colonists that included the artist John White and the mathematician Thomas Hariot arrived at Roanoke Island off the coast of present-day North Carolina. The expedition’s financial backer, Sir Walter Raleigh, had received a charter from Queen Elizabeth I granting him the prerogative to “discover, search, find out, and view such remote heathen and barbarous Lands, Countries, and territories”.14 Hariot and White were charged by Raleigh with representing the types of commodities—land, people, and goods—available in the Virginia colony. Many of their observations concerned the Secotan Nation, whose land they were occupying and who lived in the nearby village of Dasemunkepeuc.15 When some colonists returned to England, Hariot delivered the manuscript for A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia and White’s watercolors were translated into engravings for the book by Theodor de Bry. Described by the literary historian Timothy Sweet as “a compendium of political, economic, and environmental information”, this publication played a crucial role in encouraging English investors to continue their colonizing endeavors in the Americas.16DOI
Hariot and White recorded numerous observations about Secotan ceramics technology in detailed descriptions and watercolors, versions of which were disseminated in the subsequent engravings made by de Bry. The Secotan Nation included skilled potters who made coiled and pit-fired earthenware ceramics.17 In his report, Thomas Hariot recorded that the Secotan “woemen know how to make earthen vessells with special Cunninge and that so large and fine, that our potters with lhoye wheles can make noe better”.18 His comparison with the capabilities of English potters suggests that the men encountered Secotan ceramics as potential technologies whose size and clay bodies were of particular interest. In the engraving accompanying this passage, de Bry also depicts a vessel: a large pot is center stage alongside a fabricated depiction of an Indigenous woman and man (fig. 2).19 In contrast, White’s watercolor—de Bry’s source material—depicts the pot isolated from its Secotan makers and users, a decision that reiterates Hariot’s characterization of Algonquin ceramics as commodities rather than cultural objects (fig. 3). White’s watercolor also signals the “special Cunninge” of Secotan potters in several ways: we see the pot’s thin walls (especially remarkable given its size), its ability to withstand direct heat, and, given the stew seemingly boiling within, non-porous walls. A small and thick-walled pipkin reconstructed from the Jamestown archaeological site, which belongs to the same genre of Surrey–Hampshire Borderware recently found in a site associated with the Roanoke colonists, suggests how remarkable this Secotan pot must have seemed to the British, as well as how unrefined English ceramics may, in turn, have seemed to the Secotan (fig. 4).20
Hariot also described the white materials he observed around Roanoke, an island whose name derived from the Algonquin word rawrenoke, meaning “white beads made from seashell” that were used as a form of currency. One passage describes a Secotan village on the banks of the Pamlico River, where Hariot observed a sacred statue adorned with white rawrenoke beads, whose “brest” was painted “white” with a material he does not identify.21 His description of this statue, which was possibly viewed as a living Being by its community, isolates the raw materials that adorn it from the kinship structures that linked the land to human and non-human beings in Secotan and other Indigenous communities who valued and traded sources of white pigment.22DOI
Hariot’s observations were made at a time when the ingredients and process of making porcelain was a captivating mystery in Europe and the British Isles, and philosophers looked to many natural sources of whiteness, particularly shells, as the potential secret to replicating the vitreous, white clay bodies of porcelain arriving from China.23 In 1585, the year in which he acted upon Queen Elizabeth’s charter to explore and colonize territories unclaimed by Christian kingdoms in Roanoke, Sir Walter Raleigh is thought to have acquired and had silver-gilt mounts made for three pieces of Wanli porcelain: a bowl, a dish, and an ewer (fig. 5).24 The gilt mounts, both literally and figuratively, serve as containers themselves, perhaps most obviously with the ewer, with its elaborate mounts ornamented with wreaths of foliage, cherub heads, and Tudor rose pattern compartmentalizing the cobalt underglaze decoration. Such mounts serve, as Anna Grasskamp has argued, as “intercultural inbetweens, mediating the foreign artifact and the European context through a Europeanization of the foreign vessel’s silhouette and the haptic experience of porcelain”.25 The Tudor rose patterns delineate the national bounds such mounts were meant to replicate. Against this backdrop of Chinese porcelain entering the English court, Hariot and White’s conveyance of Secotan ceramics and white materials to their investors suggests that interest in the commercial potentials of the Americas included the search for secrets to a more refined ceramic technology.
Over the 150 years between White and Hariot’s Report and Duché’s delivery of unaker into the hands of potential investors in 1744, the pattern established at Roanoke—of searching for resources to enrich England—would be repeated and intensified under the socioeconomic doctrine of mercantilism, which promotes the accumulation of national wealth through government regulations ensuring that exports exceed imports. Mercantilist policies dictated that colonial possessions and the British, Indigenous, and people of African descent who lived within them should serve as suppliers of raw materials to the mother country and as markets for exports. Manufacturing was forbidden in the colonies, and regulations were set to ensure that all commerce between the colony and the mother country was the latter’s monopoly.26 Unaker’s value to the British lay in its potential to serve as one such “raw material” for the burgeoning ceramics industry in England, particularly in Staffordshire. Colonists and traders in the Americas would seek out materials with commercial potential, whose extraction and use would be mediated through the cultural production and expertise of Indigenous peoples. However, as Timothy Silver has observed, these encounters were consistently based on a fundamental misunderstanding: “What Europeans perceived as commerce could take place only within the native context of friendship, gift giving, and reciprocity”.27DOI
British explorers and traders encroaching further inland in the seventeenth century encountered the large and sophisticated network of the Cherokee Nation—numbering over 30,000 in the 1600s—whose home encompassed 40,000 square miles of the Appalachian Mountains and foothills from present-day West Virginia to eastern Alabama. These lands were divided into three distinct regions—the Middle and Lower Towns to the east and the Overhill to the west, in the latter of which a distinct dialect was spoken—which were, nevertheless, connected by a shared Iroquoian language and a dense network of trails, rugged forested ridges, and valleys formed by rapidly flowing rivers and creeks. Cherokee settlements and towns varied in size from a dozen houses to several hundred people.28DOI
Even so, these communities were much more than the human kin they contained within their homes. Human and non-human kin relations were and continue to be essential to Cherokee engagements with the land.29 In this landscape defined by relationships, the universe is composed of three distinct but connected worlds: the Upper World and the Under World, which are the domains of spirits, and this World, where humans live. Within this spiritual landscape, the ground is full of meaning. As Garrett remembers, “The elder taught me that every green plant … reaches into the depths of Mother Earth for nutrient life, and every mineral or rock has energy too … Mother Earth was alive, and that she gave us life”.30 The Cherokee were especially known for their close association with Appalachian geology. Mañterañ, the Catawba name for the Cherokee, means “the people who come out of the ground”.31DOI
Cherokee homelands encompass the densest distribution of unaker clay beds in North America, stretching from western North Carolina, through the Upcountry of South Carolina, and across Georgia.32 Unaker, which belongs to the kaolin group of clay minerals, is a hydrated aluminum silicate crystalline mineral formed over many millions of years by the hydrothermal decomposition of granite rocks (fig. 6). Although kaolin is one of the most common minerals in the world, unaker—unlike Chinese Gāolǐngtǔ—is a distinctive combination of 90 percent halloysite and 10 percent kaolinite, which makes its whiteness, plasticity, and fine particle structure exceptional.33
Two examples of Cherokee ceramics made with unaker during the Middle Qualla Phase (1450–1700) begin to show the material’s indivisibly aesthetic, spiritual, and relational values among the Cherokee. First, a now discolored ceremonial pipe for smoking tobacco dating to circa 1400–1600, was made from a clay body that included unaker (fig. 7).34 Pipe bowls of this type were traditionally carved by men out of blocks of clay and then dried until they were leather-hard. The pipe’s form and nubbed surface repeats in miniature a Cherokee fire pot, a ceramic vessel used to carry and share embers for practical and ceremonial purposes. Similarly, this pipe bowl is thought to have been shared in ceremonies that established or strengthened relationships between communities and individuals. Second, several small white pottery disks found at the Townson archaeological site in present-day Cherokee County, North Carolina, are fragments of coiled pots that feature a complicated stamped decorative technique made using a gastoli’, or a wooden paddle carved with a pattern (fig. 8).35 In Cherokee communities, coiled vessels were typically made by women, who oversaw the gathering of clay, the construction of pots, and the firing. These pieces, however, were repurposed, chipped, ground, and burnished around the edges into smooth disks and used as dice in Cherokee games of chance known as taludza gunti (basket play).36 Traditionally played by men against women, the basket game was and remains integrated into several major rituals in the Cherokee Nation’s calendar. For example, it serves as the prelude to, or as the first episode of, the ceremony in the Midwinter Eagle ritual. Other versions of the game are more for entertainment than of ritual significance.37 Such white ceramics are described in the writings of the British soldier Henry Timberlake, who recorded in 1761 that the Cherokee “have two sorts of clay, red and white, with both of which they make excellent vessels, some of which will stand the greatest heat”.38 His observations, however, leave out the way in which unaker objects engendered diplomatic and personal relationships within Cherokee culture.
British colonists would not understand the cultural significance of unaker until they became allies of the Cherokee during the Yamasee War, the bloody conflict fought from 1715 to 1717 by the Yamasee and allied Indigenous nations against British settlers of the Province of South Carolina.39 This volatile situation threatened the continued expansion of British colonial interests and raised the possibility that French control of Indigenous territories would expand eastward. As a result, it became advantageous for British colonists to secure an alliance with the Cherokee Nation, who had initially sided with the opposing Yamasee–Creek forces. In 1716 the Cherokee allied with the Province of South Carolina and played a major role in the British victory of the Yamasee War. Trade and diplomatic interactions between the two new allies in turn increased significantly.40DOI
Cherokee access to, and relationships with, their lands were profoundly affected by the escalating encroachment of British settlers in the years immediately following their alliance, a shift that may be seen in vivid detail in William Hammerton’s Map of the Southeastern Part of North America, 1721 (fig. 9). Inscribed and drawn in pen and ink, this is thought to be the earliest surviving detailed English map of the southeastern part of North America.41 Its cartouche on the right, typical of British maps of colonial territories at the time, distills the ideological purpose of the map. On the right, a Poseidon-like figure holds a triton in one hand and an unfurling map in the other. His aquatic and cartographic accessories represent the British advancement of empire along waterways, its thalassocracy stretching from the Atlantic coastline into each river branching upward into Cherokee country and beyond. On the left side of the cartouche, an allegorical Native American figure leans against a stubby palmetto tree, his sketchily rendered crown of feathers echoing with the branches of the palm.42 Although reclining, he looks outward warily, with quivers slung over his back and bow in hand. The outline of his body defines the curvature of the ground as much as it defines him—a slippage that echoes the mutually constitutive relationality that defines the Cherokee worldview and cosmology.
The map’s inscriptions, however, are at odds with the Cherokee being with the land. The peripheries of Cherokee country appear as “very hilly” but “very good land”, well suited for “English factor[ies]”, documenting an anticipation of colonization. Further inscriptions list resources key to the success of mercantilism, such as lumber, ports, and fertile land. However, knowledge of everything on the continent evidently still eluded the British: near the center of the map, the heart of Cherokee land, the Appalachian Mountains, remains unknown. The map tells the viewer, “all these Mountainous Parts were never well discovered”. This region encompassed the Cherokee Middle Town of Iotla, present-day Macon County, which was the closest settlement to the vein of unaker that was to be mined by Duché and Griffiths. The map reaches north and west far beyond this opaque region, suggesting that the British hoped to alter this state of unknowing in their near future.DOI
Unaker was an essential part of the Cherokee’s visual and material languages of diplomacy, as it was for other southeastern Indigenous peoples, making it highly visible to British colonists once they had allied with the Cherokee. Cherokee peoples value the colors red and white as representing moieties of war and peace respectively, a worldview epitomized by the shared authority of the asgayagusta (head warrior) and the uku (the civil leader of a town).43 The asgayagusta was historically “painted blood-red”, with clay slip, on their face and body, which, by the eighteenth century had been replaced by vermilion gained through trade with the British.44 The uku was “painted milk white” with a slurry made of unaker. Indeed, along with eagle and swan feathers, unaker was the main source of the color white for the Cherokee.45 The Irish trader James Adair, who witnessed British–Cherokee diplomacy in the 1730s, observed that the Cherokee also made a slurry of unaker to paint the interior and exterior of important structures, “their supposed holiest, with white clay; for it is a sacred, peaceable place, and white is its emblem”.46 The EBCI Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Russell Townsend, has said that mica mixed with the unaker made the buildings sparkle like diamonds in the sun.47DOI
Cherokee diplomacy also made unaker in its unaltered state more visible to the British. In the spring of 1730, the Scottish aristocrat Sir Alexander Cuming voyaged to South Carolina, traveled into Cherokee country, and established diplomatic relations as an unofficial representative of the British crown at the National Council of Cherokee at Nikwasi and Keowee. Cuming misinterpreted the ceremonies he witnessed as a submission to British authority, but his travels still provided him with close observation of Cherokee minerals and resources and resulted in the Cherokee Nation recognizing Great Britain as their sole trading partner.48 On 25 March, he visited the clay pits near Estatoway in the Lower Cherokee settlement, and on 6 April 1730, as Cuming recounted in the third person, a Cherokee “King” visited him at Keowee and repeated a ceremonial exchange first carried out at Nikwasi: “Here again he received all kinds of Herbs and Roots that were kept as Secrets, [and] look’d after Mines and Minerals”.49 Cumings’s language is ambiguous—did the Cherokee give him the “Herbs and Roots” but only allow him to look at the minerals? Did he comprehend the significance of these materials to British potters and to the mercantilist system at large, or did he simply want an eyewitness description taken back to British Charles Town (which was to be renamed Charleston in 1783)? Rife with misreadings as it was, Cumings’s visit highlights how the British experienced unaker through their relations with the Cherokee peoples.DOI
In 1737, as British diplomacy and trade with the Cherokee deepened, the Philadelphia-born potter Andrew Duché moved from Charles Town to New Windsor, Georgia, a settlement by the border with South Carolina that was at the center of a lucrative trading route with the Cherokee. During his work as a trader, Duché recognized that unaker was very much like kaolin, one of two key ingredients of Chinese porcelain.50 In 1738, seeking funds for porcelain manufacturing from the governing board of Georgia Colony, Duché alerted Georgia’s then commander General James Oglethorpe, who wrote to the trustees in Britain that “clay had been found here that a Potter has bak’d into China Ware”.51 Duché then traveled to England in 1744, bringing raw unaker and experimental samples of porcelain that he had fired using it.DOI
Leaving out the theft of unaker and the broken promises described by the Cherokee leaders to Griffiths in 1767, Duché seems instead to have promulgated a narrative of “discovery” in the Americas. One of the founders of Georgia Colony, John Perceval, first Earl of Egmont, wrote with enthusiasm that Duché was “the first Man in Europe, Africa or America, that ever found the true material and manner of making porcelain or China ware”,52 and the English Quaker William Cookworthy wrote that he had been visited by “the person who hath discovered the china-earth” in the North American colonies.53 Duché would never successfully manufacture porcelain on a commercial scale, but his exploitation of the Cherokee Nation’s tenuous control over their lands and shipment of unaker to England produced the first hard-paste porcelain made in the British Isles.DOI
In South Carolina, advancements in manufacturing porcelain with unaker followed further British appropriation of Cherokee lands. Whereas James Adair had counted sixty-four Cherokee towns and villages as part of “a very numerous and potent nation” that still controlled the southeastern Appalachians in the 1730s, the Cherokee population had been reduced to 2,300 by 1761.54 The Anglo-Cherokee War of 1759–61, in which the British conducted a scorched earth campaign, concluded when a treaty was signed in December 1761 that forced the Cherokee to cede most of their territory in South Carolina.55 Around a year later, John Bartlam, a master potter from Staffordshire, decided to migrate to the colony to establish his own ceramic manufactory.56 Using unaker, which he called “Cherokee clay”, Bartlam became the first person to successfully manufacture soft-paste porcelain in the British colonies and one of the many colonial artisans to disrupt the mercantilist economic model.DOI
Bartlam’s pottery was first located at Cainhoy, on the Wando River outside Charles Town, and later in Charles Town itself. After 1773, he relocated to Camden, South Carolina, an interior settlement closer to the best unaker and clay sources. News of his success reached his home country of Staffordshire where, in 1765, Josiah Wedgwood wrote to Sir William Meredith of a “new Pottworks in South Carolina where they had every material there equal if not superior to our own”, expressing concern that Bartlam would cut into their profitable colonial market.57DOI
Several of Bartlam’s ten known transfer-printed soft-paste porcelain wares, including a teapot found in England in 2018, bear an original composition that combines chinoiserie decorative elements with direct references to South Carolina (fig. 10). This inclusion of local references within the placelessness of chinoiserie, by way of geographically specific elements from the colonies, is distinctive to Bartlam’s oeuvre.58 Against the warm white of the teapot, the cobalt scene depicts a chinoiserie seascape on the right and, in the foreground, a bank of land with birds, thought to be sandhill cranes, and a sabal palmetto, both of which species were native to southeastern North America.59 The inclusion of these specific non-human kin, printed on an unaker surface, reiterates their relationship to the land while also sublimating their Indigeneity within the larger lexicon of chinoiserie.
With its combination of colonial land and fantastical maritime imagery, the transferware pattern shares some of the compositional logic of the cartouche William Hammerton drew on his Map of the Southeastern Part of North America in 1721. But there is a key difference: in contrast to the map, Indigenous human life on land is omitted. However, three small figures can be discerned within the scene, two on what appears to be a sampan and another on a proa. In producing this discontinuity between the flora and fauna of place and the seafaring technology used, Bartlam’s ware produces a scene that occurs, paradoxically, both within the Americas and within an imagined and placeless “Orient”. Unmediated by Indigenous presence and unmoored in fantasy, this colonial landscape printed onto a clay body made from appropriated Cherokee land belongs to the colonial viewer. The image’s untroubled flora and fauna offer a land devoid of the brutal and costly history of colonization, dispossession vanished into the pale background of the porcelain. Bartlam’s iconography, and the teapot itself as a work of “British” decorative art, invents naturalized rather than Indigenous resources. It implies the fiction of discovering “materials” rather than the reality of consuming Indigenous kin, a narrative already promulgated by Duché and taken up by England’s pottery industry. In these two objects, Indigenous bodies, clay or otherwise, become the substrate on which colonial fantasies are projected.
Refining Whiteness in the British EmpireDOI
Unaker entered eighteenth-century Great Britain within a web of transnational exchanges between the Cherokee and the British Empire that encompassed people, land, and goods. While British traders and soldiers journeyed into Cherokee lands, Cherokee delegations traveled to England to secure diplomatic and trade agreements in 1730 and 1762.60 Cherokee trade with the British likewise sent Indigenous goods from southeastern North America to England. Refined objects made by Cherokee artisans constituted a small portion of this trade, including river cane baskets and pipes.61 The vast majority were “raw” materials like deerskins, which were shipped to Britain to be refined into manufactured goods.62 Learning of unaker and grasping its ceramic potential in the 1730s, potters in Staffordshire hoped that the mineral could become another “raw” material shipped across the Atlantic and refined into manufactured goods.DOI
Since the earliest decades of English mercantilist policy, the consumption of Chinese porcelain had disrupted this system by leaking capital out of the British Empire as consumers spent money on foreign imports rather than domestic luxuries.63 In the early 1740s, before “China clay” was discovered in England, mining and shipping unaker from the southeastern colonies offered a potential solution. Potters sifted, washed, and mixed unaker into new British ceramic inventions, demonstrating that this Indigenous “raw material” could be isolated from Indigenous culture and assimilated into clay bodies made and consumed by British subjects. In their decorations and the wording of their patents, they framed unaker within narratives of refinement and empire. More than simply offering white clay bodies, British ceramics made with unaker in the eighteenth century contributed to the production of distinctly British Whiteness engendered and legitimized by the process of empire building and the violence it does to the people and societies encountered.DOI
The mercantile ambitions driving British potters’ earliest experiments with unaker in England are clearly seen in the letters patent granted by George II in 1744 to the merchant and entrepreneur Edward Heylyn and artist Thomas Frye for the domestic production of porcelain.64 In eighteenth-century Great Britain, letters patent were public documents written by the prospective patent holders that signaled not only a right, monopoly, or title but also the monarch’s approval.65 As such, they typically detailed not only materials and technique but also arguments for aesthetic and economic significance, designed to curry favor with the crown and to spark the interest of investors. The Heylyn and Frye patent identifies its key material: “an earth, the produce of the Cherokee nation in America, called by the natives UNAKER”, as well as its extraordinary qualities: “very fixed, strongly resisting fire and menstrua (dissolution) … extreamly white, tenacious, and glittering with mica”.66 Then, the patent announces
A new method of manufacturing a certain material, whereby a ware might be made of the same nature or kind, and equal to, if not exceeding in goodness and beauty, china or porcelain ware imported from abroad.66
Describing a process of washing the unaker to remove “impurities”, including the glittering mica that was of value to the Cherokee peoples, the patent makes an indivisible aesthetic, political, and economic argument. Just as it proposes to blend unaker with other materials to make British porcelain, it also promises to incorporate unaker into the system of British mercantilism.DOI
Relocating British porcelain consumption into a mercantilist economy, as the patent declares, “would not only save large sums of money that were yearly paid to the Chinese and Saxons, but also imploy large numbers of men, women, and children” to create an industry akin to “the woolen or iron manufactories” then growing rich from colonial demand.68 By the mid-eighteenth century, English potters were sending approximately half of their wares to the colonies, but the market for porcelain had thus far eluded them.69 With unaker, the men hoped to reduce dependence on Chinese goods and to consolidate capital within the British Empire.DOI
Between 1744 and 1746, the patentees produced a group of thirty-six porcelain wares with unaker. Now known as the “A-Marked” group, their shared mark is thought to stand for the venture’s financial backer, Alderman George Arnold, a wealthy dry goods merchant.70 These works have been categorized by modern scholars into two groups: stock pattern, which feature chinoiserie enameling similar to that found on blanc de chine porcelain; and high style, many of which are painted by an unknown artist with figure subjects copied from prints by the French illustrator and designer Hubert-François Gravelot, who immigrated to London in 1732.70DOI
One high style “A-Marked” porcelain object is a footed bowl following a form common among Chinese imports (fig. 11). Dark specks and pits appear across the porcelain, registering the remnants of other materials in the unaker. The bowl is enameled with two scenes from fables published by John Gay in 1727 and 1738 and dedicated to Prince William, the youngest son of George II. Like the patent that enabled the production of its clay body, the enameling remakes porcelain in the image of Britain’s empire. Both stories offer moral lessons about wealth. On one side is a scene from the fable of Cupid, Hymen, and Plutus, while the other is enameled with the Miser and Plutus, a fable which teaches that a miserly attitude toward gold, rather than gold itself, is what corrupts virtue. This message, that it is morally superior to expend capital than hoard it, was a fitting lesson for the rulers of a mercantilist empire.72 Gay describes the Miser opening his lockbox in a room, and the engraved illustration, designed by William Kent, which accompanied the fable on its first publication depicts that scene in an architectural environment (fig. 12).73 On the bowl, though, the Miser leans over a chest opened at the mouth of a cave. Verdant plants surround its maw, while roots may be seen dangling from inside. This noticeable alteration from the constructed to the natural seems to gesture toward the wealth of the earth, an image and lesson that is infused with rococo aesthetics but perhaps also, on a bowl made from the grounds of empire, valorizes the work of Heylyn and Frye to realize unaker’s “full” potential.
The collapse between European and Asiatic visual and material culture in objects like this bowl, as scholar Anne Anlin Cheng has argued, played a major role in how Whiteness as a subject position itself was, and continues to be, constituted. This process of taking—which, as Cheng argues is essential to the development of Whiteness—had less to do with an epidermal schema and more to do with the relationship between peoples.74 In acts of appropriation, or “borrowing”, as Cheng states—such as in the “A-Marked” porcelain applying a “British” scene to a Chinese form and clay body made with Cherokee clay—Whiteness not only consumes the racialized Other, but also constitutes itself against that which it can and does take and against what it makes from this loot.75 This process was encapsulated by one of the main organizing principles of Enlightenment thought: eclecticism—what Peter Gay has described as “a school that denied being a school”.76 Taking from scattered locations across the globe to produce hybrid forms, Whiteness in the early modern era began to be defined by this ability to take from where it pleased.DOI
When Heylyn and Frye produced porcelain with unaker, the material existed within mercantilism as a type of colonial good described by Adam Smith as “the peculiar produce of America” with no comparable resource available within Great Britain.77 Its status would shift by 1746, when the Quaker minister William Cookworthy discovered china clay in Cornwall. Cookworthy, however, was to be granted exclusive right to its use in 1768 by George III. A year earlier, in July 1767, Josiah Wedgwood had dispatched Thomas Griffiths to South Carolina in search of unaker, the timing suggesting that Wedgwood was seeking out the material for reasons beyond the practical limitation of Cookworthy’s patent. Indeed, he had begun searching for samples in England in 1766, at the same time as he became concerned about Bartlam’s “pottworks” in South Carolina. Unable to acquire samples of Cherokee clay and growing increasingly concerned, he decided to take action and hired Griffiths.DOI
A teenager in Staffordshire during the years when unaker first arrived in England, Josiah Wedgwood had, by 1763, become known for his fine, richly glazed earthenware, a distinctively British creamware to rival porcelain. It was so popular that, with the consent of his most prominent satisfied customer, Queen Charlotte, the name “Queensware” was adopted and Wedgwood became the Queen’s potter. His decision to invest in the Cherokee mineral was a spectacular embrace of mercantilism befitting his royal patronage. Griffiths returned to Liverpool not only with five tons of unaker packed in casks on the wharfs of Charles Town but also a richly detailed journal—and extensive bill—for his employers. Describing the Cherokee peoples and places, the frigid cold of his winter travel into the Cherokee Nation, and his own fumbling attempts to navigate Cherokee diplomacy and mine the unaker, this journal offered its new owner, Josiah Wedgwood, a narrative and context for his novel “raw material”.78DOI
Although Wedgwood never produced porcelain, unaker was crucial to his technological and marketing innovations.79 It appears in his glaze and clay trials under the number 23, “Cherokee clay” (fig. 13). These experiments seem to indicate a broad interest in seeing exactly what unaker could be capable of. Eschewing chinoiserie, he and his business partner in the enameling and sale of ornamental wares, the Liverpool merchant Thomas Bentley, used unaker to create novel neoclassical ceramics: encaustic enamel in 1769 and, if his own claims are to be believed, jasper in 1777.80 Together, Wedgwood and Bentley sold neoclassical ceramics made from materials extracted in the colonies to consumers whose burgeoning wealth derived from the British Empire and its growing trade in material and human capital, chief among them the partners’ royal patrons.
In a “great variety of experiments” from 1768 to 1769, Wedgwood perfected a decorating technique that could be applied to his black basalt clay body to mimic ancient vase painting.81 This “Set of encaustic Colours”, as Wedgwood and Bentley declared in promotional materials, was
invented, not only sufficient completely to imitate the Paintings upon the Etruscan Vases; but to do much more; to give to the Beauty of Design, the Advantages of Light and Shade in various Colours; and to render Paintings durable without the Defect of a varnished or glassy Surface.82
For Heylyn and Frye, unaker’s value had resided in its ability to produce glassy surfaces, but Wedgwood repurposed it in a matte decorative technique that offered an alternative to the reflective quality of enamel ornament. This rejection of unaker’s potential to fabricate porcelain produced a distinctly British mode of luxury ceramics that no longer appropriated from China or Saxony.DOI
Wedgwood would debut his first invention with unaker through the letters patent he had obtained for encaustic enamel from George III in November 1769.83 After a brief description of the final results of his experiments, Wedgwood lists the ingredients. The first, “No. 1”, “A white Earth from Ayoree, in North America” is the only one for which he identifies its source, emphasizing his key ingredient’s novel origins. Wedgwood’s geographic terminology is not accurate but was based on his examination of a map of North America by John Mitchell that he had purchased in 1767 to “search for the town where the Steatites grow”.84 The patent goes on to describe how each of the ten substances may be combined to make eight encaustic colors.85DOI
Wedgwood’s advertised combination of neoclassicism and Cherokee resources existed in a British intellectual milieu that prized eclecticism and regularly juxtaposed Indigenous peoples and classical cultures. As James Bunn has observed of the era, “Amazing hybrids emerged from the ludicrous indifference to racial and geographical facts”, a tendency perhaps borne out in specimen collections amassed in the eighteenth century.86 According to one guide’s description, a single room at the British Museum in the late eighteenth century contained Etruscan pottery and “American Idols”.87 Many such pairings imagined the Indigenous peoples of North America as a less advanced civilization that was closer to the ancient Greeks and Romans than to modern Britons.88 The American-born painter Benjamin West was one of many in Wedgwood and Bentley’s circle who promoted this worldview. Famously, on first seeing the Apollo Belvedere in Rome in the summer of 1760, West exclaimed, “My God, how like it is to a young Mohawk warrior”.89 While West’s remarks sensationalized his own eyewitness knowledge of Indigenous peoples brought into the center of empire, he was far from the first or only non-Indigenous person to apply such a comparison. In 1762, the same year that Cherokee diplomats journeyed to London, one British newspaper claimed, “those who they call warriors or hunters are like the antient gentleman of Europe, whose single possession were arms and chance”.90DOI
In Wedgwood’s marketing schemes, classicism and unaker came together in a dual strategy he described, with an emphatic underscore, as “age & scarcity”. In his longest rumination on the mineral, written to Bentley in November 1777, while they prepared to market jasper, he wrote:
I have often thought of mentioning to you that it may not be a bad idea to give out, that our jaspers are made of the Cherokee clay which I sent an agent into that country on purpose to procure for me, & when the present parcel is out we have no hope of obtaining more, and it was with the utmost difficult the natives were prevail’d upon to part with what we now have, though recommended to them by their father Stuart, Intendant of Indian Affairs … This idea will give limits, a boundary to the quantity which your customers will be ready to conceive may be made of these fine bass reliefs, which otherwise would be gems indeed. They want nothing but age & scarcity to make them worth any price you could ask for them.91
The absence of any documented mention of unaker in Wedgwood advertising (beyond the high-profile enamels patent) has led Robin Reilly to conjecture that Bentley’s good sense led him to quash Wedgwood’s proposed strategy.92 However, this argument misses the larger significance articulated in Wedgwood’s letter, that for him classical precedent and Cherokee materials were mutually constitutive elements that could be made to drive desire for his wares.DOI
The First Day’s Vases, ceremonially thrown at the opening of Etruria factory in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, on 13 June 1769, debuted the use of unaker-based encaustic enamel, and their decoration seems to have been designed to stoke consumer interest by referring to mythological narratives of exotic materials. Etruria was a cutting-edge factory with specialized artisans and a highly regulated system of production, but for its opening day, as well as their chosen name “Etruria”, Wedgwood and Bentley centered the classical world.93 Wedgwood threw six basalt vases in the lebes gamikos form while Bentley provided motive power for the wheel. At the decorating studio overseen by Bentley in Chelsea, the six vases were enameled by William Hopkins Craft. The four vases that survived their second firing bear commemorative inscriptions as well as scenes from Plate 129—Hercules in the Garden of the Hesperides—from volume one of what would become Wedgwood and Bentley’s frequent source for visual imagery, Sir William Hamilton’s Collection of Etruscan, Greek, and Roman Antiquities, published in 1766–7 with illustrations by Pierre François Hugues d’Hancarville (fig. 14).94 Titled Hercules in the Garden of the Hesperides, Plate 129 was thought by Hamilton and his contemporaries to depict figures in the fabled garden because it appears contiguous with a Hesperides scene on Hamilton’s renowned Meidias Hydria. Modern scholars have established that the passage depicted in Plate 129 actually shows Athenian heroes, a confusion that may still be seen on one First Day’s Vase recently sold at Christie’s (fig. 15). Depicting two Athenian heroes from Plate 129—Demophon and Oineus armed with spears, and Chrysis seated on high ground and holding up her right arm as if beckoning to Oineus—this vase also features a historical label on the bottom identifying the scene as Hercules in the Garden of the Hesperides, as was thought in Wedgwood’s lifetime.
Why, of all the colorful illustrations offered up in Hamilton’s first volume, did Wedgwood and Bentley select what they thought to be images of the eleventh labor of Hercules for the decorative scheme of the First Day’s Vases? In this labor, Hercules is commanded by Eurystheus to travel to a mountainous region at the far western edge of the earth and steal precious golden apples belonging to Zeus that had been given to Hera at her wedding and entrusted to the care of the Hesperides (the daughters of Atlas) in their garden. In the eighteenth century, scholars speculated that Hercules had sailed to the Canary Islands, but the West Indies were also compared to the Hesperides.95 On obtaining the golden apples, Hercules must return them to Zeus.DOI
This narrative of the desire for rare commodities at the far ends of the Western world and the extraordinary lengths to which men go to transport them from wondrous peripheries to the seat of power contains remarkable parallels with Wedgwood’s acquisition of unaker. With the First Day’s Vases, Wedgwood apparently sought to tell a story about scarcity with a scarce material. In his 1777 letter to Bentley about unaker, the imbrication of scarcity and desirability spilled over into a marketing insight. Wedgwood concluded with instructions about the showroom on Greek Street: “I think you should make as little display of quantity in the rooms, of these fine jaspers as possible”; the suggestion to spark customer demand recreated the conditions under which he had first expended significant resources on unaker.96 Here, the real rarity of an Indigenous North American material generates a strategic illusion of the scarcity of British manufactured goods in general. The showroom is imagined as a rarefied atmosphere consciously concealing the partners’ true scale of production.97DOI
Wedgwood’s plan to appeal to British consumers by combining Cherokee culture and classical antiquity was, by this time, a tried-and-true form of publicity in London. In 1762 a delegation of three Cherokee leaders, Ostenaco, Cunne Shote, and Woyi, accompanied by Lieutenant Henry Timberlake, arrived in England to secure a treaty to end the Anglo-Cherokee War. With this unstable and new alliance at stake, the Cherokee delegation was politically important and garnered significant public attention. The men had an audience with George III and toured London, when crowds were said to have followed them in great numbers.98 One of the great spectacles of their visit took place in the studio of the painter Francis Parsons in Queen Square, where Cunne Shote sat for a portrait (fig. 16).99 A crowd gathered, and there was “a throng of ladies coming out of Mr. Parsons’ Room from seeing the pictures of the Cherokee Chief”. The events of the day inspired a bawdy song that was still sung in London in the 1770s, “A New Humorous Song, on the Cherokee Chiefs. Inscribed to the Ladies of Great Britain”.100
In the portrait painted by Parsons during this so-called spectacle of female desire, also known in a mezzotint by James MacArdell, Cunne Shote stands in a hybrid space of exoticism and classicism. The Cherokee leader is presented in a half-length pose. His plucked scalp, tinted skin, hair decoration, and stretched and lacerated earlobe signal his distance from the customs of London, but his personal accoutrements signal a diplomatic joining of these distant worlds. At the center of the composition, Cunne Shote’s bodily adornment bespeaks his fluency in the diplomatic exchanges of both nations: a silver and gold peace medal at his throat and a large plate gorget with the initials “G.R.III” around his neck reflect English design and manufacture, while a string of small black beads and a brooch are both possibly Indigenous American in origin. In his right hand he grips a deadly knife with a forceful gesture, while his left arm is covered with a cloak in the grand manner of classical European portraiture, referencing the one-shouldered himation, a garment most associated with ancient philosophers. The red cloak creates a strong contrast with the white lace-trimmed shirt—a color combination with diplomatic significance for the Cherokee Nation. Parsons furthers the juxtaposition of elements from classical and Indigenous North American cultural lexicons by placing a tropical tree on the “American” side, while a tree that looks more typical of northern Europe appears on the “English” side of the canvas.101DOI
Stephanie Pratt has argued that this portrait “encod[es] a cultural clash”, but its eclectic logic, like that of the British Museum galleries and the First Day’s Vases, also reflects the consolidating power of British mercantilism. Cunne Shote’s clothes had been supplied in England but were sewn from cloth made of cotton and wool, raw goods that Britain relied on the colonies to provide. Like Cunne Shotte’s likeness, these materials had been refined into a British good. This portrait, and the publicity surrounding it, transformed Cunne Shote from a “raw” good of the colonies into a “subject” of empire. This is the spectacle Wedgwood imagined for his showroom, a space where unaker would become a medium for disseminating the taste and mythologies of British neoclassicism and colonial legitimacy. Wedgwood’s most important client was certainly fascinated: Wedgwood would write in the same 1777 letter to Bentley that “his Majesty … has repeatedly enquir’d what I have done with the Cherokee clay”.102DOI
Jasper, Wedgwood’s second and final invention that incorporated unaker, would turn his catalog and showroom into a pantheon of the British Empire. Wedgwood strategically chose not to secure a patent for this new variety of stoneware to conceal his process from would-be competitors, a decision that continues to obscure unaker’s part in the recipe. Two letters Wedgwood sent to Bentley in 1776 identify a recipe for jasper that does not include unaker at all.103 Yet, in the 1777 letter quoted above, Wedgwood clearly indicates that the recipe did in fact contain unaker. Robin Reilly has proposed that Wedgwood perhaps used a small quantity, “added since February 1776 when he revealed the recipe to his partner: such a quantity, for example, as might be required in a thin slip coating applied to the face of tablets—a technique introduced only about a month or so before” Wedgwood wrote to Bentley about his marketing idea.104DOI
In the following years, Wedgwood and Bentley’s jasper subjects would include dozens of portrait medallions including “Antients” and “Modern Subjects”. Among this latter group were notable men from and living in the colonies, including Benjamin West, Benjamin Franklin, William Penn, Lord Jeffery Amherst, and George Washington, the latter of whom is seen in an oval medallion modeled in 1777 and cast and fired between 1777 and 1780 (fig. 17).105 Encircled with a beaded gilt medal frame, the medallion features what was to become the classic blue jasper background, while cracks around Washington’s shoulders reveal a formula and materials that could still have unpredictable outcomes. At this time the commander in chief of the Continental Army, who was known in the Haudenosaunee language as Conotocaurius (Town Destroyer), any sign of Washington’s colonial identity has been replaced by classicizing elements based on a medal of Voltaire struck in Paris in 1777.
The whiteness of jasper portraiture created a common ground for collecting British “greats” across time, at the same period that an emerging sense of nationality in America ended the first phase of the British Empire. Indeed, Wedgwood hoped that jasper would be a successful export to the British colonies in North America. Consumed by prominent American men including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, jasper abstracted its subjects—and consumers—from the specificities of time and place through the commonality of neoclassical whiteness.106 This in turn materialized the construction of racialized Whiteness reified in this period to justify both the kidnapping and enslavement of African peoples and governmental policies against Indigenous nations. “Whiteness”, as Richard Dyer writes, “has been enormously, often terrifyingly effective in unifying coalitions of disparate groups of people”.107DOI
Much has been made of the pastel colors of jasper, but its white relief-molded subjects represent Wedgwood’s most sustained and successful search for a purely white clay body. Wedgwood wrote to Bentley in 1773, on a day when jasper experiments were working, “I believe I shall make an excellent white body”, and he was to call jasper “my porcelain” in 1790—a phrase that conveys his ambitions for creating a ceramic body equal to, rather than imitative of, Chinese ceramics.108 Wedgwood’s friend and fellow Lunar Society member Erasmus Darwin also focused on jasper’s whiteness in his ekphrastic poetry about portrait medallions, praising the potter’s processing of minerals that pass “Through finer sieves, and fall in white showers”.109 Viewed in this context, jasper offers an inverse of porcelain: white clay is no longer the ground on which subjects are added but the subject matter itself. It sets off whiteness to full effect by surrounding it with color, a design that visualizes the construction of Whiteness through cultural appropriation in the eighteenth century. The focus on unaker’s precise role within the jasper recipe perhaps obscures the larger significance of unaker at Etruria. Wedgwood would remark, over a decade later in 1789, that clay from the Cherokee Nation “exceeds in whiteness all others I had ever met with”.110 It may be difficult to trace unaker in jasper, but the ideal of Whiteness it represented at Etruria remains.DOI
Unaker’s fate within British mercantilism is especially striking when it is placed in dialogue with the circulation of other materials within North America whose connections to the construction of race are more established—most notably cotton. Anna Arabindan-Kesson’s recent work has positioned the visual and material cultures of cotton as a “speculative vision” of Blackness which asserts the value of cotton, fields, and Black people on their predicted future value, labor, and/or reproduction.111 Unaker’s value, however, was tied to its scarcity, which produced a speculative vision of Indigeneity predicated on the promise of disappearance.112 Within the storied emblems and figures represented, unaker is meant to disappear into Wedgwood’s obfuscation of jasper’s material origins.DOI
Wedgwood could imagine that his elite customers would relish the rarity of Cherokee clay, but his potters desired Cherokee and, more broadly, Indigenous land itself. In 1783, when Great Britain and the nascent United States signed the Treaty of Paris, Staffordshire potteries faced a troubling reduction of their workforce as potters emigrated to the newly independent United States in search of economic opportunity. In response, Wedgwood delivered “An address to the workmen in the pottery, on the subject of entering into the service of foreign manufacturers”. The speech exhorted skilled potters not to leave England for better compensation and livelihoods in foreign countries. At its heart was Wedgwood’s vituperation of the South Carolina potter John Bartlam, waxing against the unmitigated horrors of life in America and Bartlam’s porcelain experiment in the colony: “I might here call upon you to reflect on the face of those, who could not content themselves with the good things of their own land, a land truly flowing with milk and honey”.113 One wonders whether the potters observed the irony in this advice from Wedgwood, whose success was based on his embrace of materials and visual traditions from far beyond Albion. Indeed, Wedgwood had once humorously suggested to Bentley that, “if we must all be driven to America, you & I will do very well amongst the Cherokees”.114 Had Wedgwood actually sought the Cherokee himself, he would have found a nation under siege. By 1783, in the fallout of the American Revolution and the rapid exit of their British allies, the Cherokee were embroiled in the Cherokee–American wars, as farmers encroached on their land more rapidly than ever before. Unaker had seemed like a contained and discrete material, but fantasies of Indigenous resources at the peripheries of empire had permeated Etruria and the entire settler-colonial endeavor in ways beyond Wedgwood’s control.
This history of Wedgwood and other potters’ engagements with unaker had been reduced to a curious chapter in the innovation of ceramic bodies in England until a recent project reactivated the Indigenous relationality between nations and ancestors in the history of unaker. In 1985 Betty Mangum, a Lumbee woman and a dedicated advocate for Indigenous American children, histories, and causes in North Carolina, who was then serving as director of the Indian Board of Education in that state, produced Wedgwood ceramics that addressed the historic British consumption of Indigenous culture, and Wedgwood’s own imbrication within it, for the first time in over 200 years. She convinced the Roanoke Anniversary Committee at Wedgwood Company and the president of Ivey’s Department Store in Charlotte that the anniversary of Roanoke Colony should be marked by the production of Wedgwood ceramics with unaker, and created a Queensware commemorative bowl and plate to be sold to raise funds for the state’s Year of the Native American in 1986 (figs. 18 and 19).115 Reaching out to colleagues in the Qualla Boundary, the land held in federal trust for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, Mangum found the local knowledge and means to acquire some of the material for her vision. With shovel in hand, on a sunny day in April 1985, Edna Chekelelee, an EBCI elder and storyteller, led two schoolchildren, David Smoker and Terry Rattler, into the hills of the Snowbird Cherokee land to find what many before them had looked for—unaker (fig. 20). Soon afterward, Mangum mailed to the Wedgwood company the five pounds of clay gathered by Chekalelee, Smoker, and Rattler, the airmail receipt from which she has saved to this day.116
Mangum also chose the transferware imagery. Over lunch with three friends, two of whom were also Lumbee, she selected six images from John White’s watercolors of Roanoke Colony that they felt represented the “daily life” and “respectable” family values of her ancestors. Five images by White and de Bry were chosen from the Indian Village of Pomeiooc series. The rendered circular stockade sits perfectly within the circular interior of the bowl. For the exterior, four vignettes were chosen by the women: Their Seetheynge of Their Meate in Earthen Pottes, The Manner of Makinge Their Boates, Their Manner of fishynge in Virginia, and Their Sitting at Meate. Printed in a rusty red slip, they stand out starkly against the bowl’s ceramic body. An inscription under each base explains that these bowls curated by Mangum are “composed in part of Cherokee clay from western North Carolina”, and that these works are “in celebration of our Indian heritage” (fig. 21). The ambiguity of this “our” written by Mangum can be read as a memorialization of the now gone Indigenous heritage and peoples of North Carolina, but, knowing that it was inscribed by her hand, this “our” gestures toward a commemoration of ancestors and kin. Mangum, ironically, had to sacrifice her own presence, acceding to the condition that Ivey’s receive full credit in the marketing of these wares.117
Despite the efforts by British potters to sublimate unaker into a narrative of British hegemony, Mangum remembered. She found and remembered the stories of unaker and its displacement and transformations. This was done with scant resources: neither the state of North Carolina, nor Wedgwood, nor Ivey’s, had much of a plan for the project or much funding set aside. As Mangum said, “You can do a lot of things with nothing”.118 She remembered the history of North Carolina beginning not with Roanoke but with her ancestors, who are inaccessible in nearly all sources save oral history and the peculiar drawings made by an English man 400 years earlier. In Their Sitting at Meate, one of the watercolors Mangum and her friends chose from the John White catalog, an Algonquian woman looks out from the scene, as if at the viewer, one of her hands reaching toward the food in front of her, and the other covering her chest. Perhaps she remembers the strange Englishman who visited and depicted her—and perhaps the four women gathered around the catalog locked eyes with her and her knowing smirk met theirs. They remembered, and the land likely never forgot, and how lovely it is for us now to glimpse what it means to remember kin in all their entanglements and pain—not as transformed strangers but instead as family wholly deserving of our care, time, and intellect.
We would like to thank the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Michael Ausbon, Anne Anlin Cheng, David Cranford, Stephen Greenblatt, Robert Hunter, Shawon Kinew, Joseph Koerner, Lucy Lead, Betty Mangum, Elizabeth Phelps Meyer, Tiya Miles, Brett Riggs, and Phyllis Thompson.
About the authors
R. Ruthie Dibble is an art historian and curator of The Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an organization dedicated to the study and interpretation of early American material culture. She earned her PhD in the history of art from Yale University in 2020. Her curatorial and scholarly work explores the role of craft in the creation and expression of individual, colonial, and national identities in early America. With co-curator Tiffany Wade Momon, she recently curated Troubled Like the Restless Sea, an exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum that examined decorative arts from the British Atlantic world through the lens of Frederick Douglass’s writings on luxury and morality.
Joseph Mizhakii Zordan is a doctoral student in the History of Art and Architecture Department at Harvard University. His research traces the development of the Indigenous–settler dichotomy and the instability of the American empire across time, particularly in objects and architecture made of and representing wood and other natural fibers from eighteenth- to twenty-first-century North America. Zordan has worked for The Chipstone Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, National Museum of the American Indian, Yale Center for British Art, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, and Yale University Art Gallery. He has also written for the American Folk Art Museum, October, and the Yale School of Art.
This gathering included Kittagusta, Kenoteta of Hiwassee, Yanegwa, Yonagusta, Estitoe, and Attakullakulla, who had visited London in 1762 as a Cherokee diplomat to the court of George III. William L. Anderson, “Cherokee Clay, from Duché to Wedgwood: The Journal of Thomas Griffiths, 1767–1768”, North Carolina Historical Review 63, no. 4 (October 1986): 477–510. For a more recent analysis of this encounter, see Timothy Silver, A New Face on the Countryside: Indians, Colonists, and Slaves in South Atlantic Forests, 1500–1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 84–87.1
“Unaker” is an anglicization of unega/ᎤᏁᎬ, meaning “white” in Cherokee. Cherokee Nation, “Word List”, Cherokee Language / ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ, https://language.cherokee.org/word-list; “400th Celebration Commission Indian Bowl, Plate”, The One Feather, clipping from Object File, North Carolina Museum of History, 86.66.1–2.2
English potters first learned the ingredients of Chinese porcelain in the 1730s. “A series of letters written by Jesuit missionary Père d’Entrecolles, who had surreptitiously observed porcelain works in China from 1710 to 1722, was published by the Jesuit historian Jean-Baptiste Du Halde, first in a French edition in 1735 and a year later in English. Of crucial importance, d’Entrecolles identified the two key ingredients of the Chinese true porcelain: ‘Petuntse’ and ‘Kaulin’”. Robert Hunter and Juliette Gerhardt, “An Eighteenth-Century American True-Porcelain Punch Bowl”, Ceramics in America, 2016, 182.3
W. L. Anderson, “Cherokee Clay”, 503.4
W. L. Anderson, “Cherokee Clay”, 504. Perhaps the men’s hesitation was due in part to their status as interlocutors; women were often the stewards of clay among the Cherokees. M. Anna Fariello, Cherokee Pottery: From the Hands of Our Elders (Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia, 2011), 7.5
J. T. Garrett, EdD, and his son, Michael Garrett, PhD, are members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee from North Carolina. As students and teachers of Cherokee medicine, they draw on the ancient wisdom and teachings of their medicine elders on the Cherokee Reservation in the Great Smoky Mountains. J. T. Garrett, The Cherokee Herbal: Native Plant Medicine from Four Directions (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003), 30.6
In addition to the Garretts’ scholarship, see also the teachings recorded in James Mooney, History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees (Asheville, NC: Historical Images, 1992). We are also indebted to Phyllis Thompson (Cherokee) who shared her knowledge regarding the terminology used in this article and her Cherokee conceptions of respect in conversations with Joseph Mizhakii Zordan.7
An excellent overview of Duché’s, Heylyn and Frye’s, and Bartlam’s contributions may be found in W. Ross Ramsay, Judith A. Hansen, and E. Gael Ramsay, “An ‘A-Marked’ Porcelain Covered Bowl, Cherokee Clay, and Colonial America’s Contribution to the English Porcelain Industry”, Ceramics in America, 2004: 60–77. For Wedgwood’s part, see Brian Dolan, Wedgwood: The First Tycoon (New York: Viking, 2004), 233–239; Christopher Benfey, Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay: Reflections on Art, Family, and Survival (New York: Penguin, 2013), 187–190; Eliza Meteyard, “Materials and Mechanical Aids”, in The Life of Josiah Wedgwood: From His Private Correspondence and Family Papers … with an Introductory Sketch of the Art of Pottery in England (London: Hurst & Blackett, 1866), 2: 1–52; Robin Reilly, Wedgwood Jasper (London: Thames & Hudson, 1994), 89–90; Edmund de Waal, The White Road: A Pilgrimage of Sorts (New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2015), 269–277.8
Throughout this article, terms such as “Britishness”, “Indigeneity”, “nationality”, and “Whiteness” are used to describe specific social relationships between humans, as well as between humans and non-humans, unaker in particular. Such terms, and the phenomena they describe, were nascent in the eighteenth-century Anglo-Atlantic world. We believe that the incorporation—one could say assimilation—of unaker into the clay body of British ceramics played a role in the development of such terms and identities, through the British consumption of Indigenous land and non-human kin (known as “natural resources” to Europeans and Americans today) and colonization. Elaine Freedgood’s work has influenced our understanding of the instability of these terms prior to the nineteenth century, including “Britishness” specifically. Elaine Freedgood, The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 45. For further reading, see Robert Colls and Phillip Dodd (ed.), Englishness: Politics and Culture, 1880–1920 (London: Croom Helm, 1986). The terms “Indigeneity” and “Indigenous”, in particular, have become increasingly important in contemporary parlance for describing the political and social experiences of displaced and colonized nations and the peoples comprising such nations, within occupied and formerly occupied territories. On the importance of capitalizing “Indigenous”, see Shawn Wilson, Research Is Ceremony: Indigenous Research Methods (Black Point, N.S.: Fernwood, 2008), 15. On capitalizing “White”, see Nell Irvin Painter, “Opinion: Why ‘White’ Should Be Capitalized, Too”, Washington Post, 22 July 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020 /07/22/why-white-should-be-capitalized.9
James H. Bunn, “The Aesthetics of British Mercantilism”, New Literary History 11, no. 2 (Winter 1980): 303–321.10
See, for example, Benjamin Franklin, “Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind, 1751”, in July 1, 1750, through June 30, 1753, Vol. 4 of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, edited by Leonard W. Labaree (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1961), 234, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-04-02-0080: “The Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light”.11
Jennifer Anderson, Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015); Anna Arabindan-Kesson, Black Bodies, White Gold: Art, Cotton, and Commerce in the Atlantic World (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2021), 20; Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014).12
Anne Anlin Cheng, Ornamentalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019); Petra ten-Doesschate Chu, Ning Din, and Lidy Jane Chu, Qing Encounters: Artistic Exchanges between China and the West (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2015).13
“Charter to Sir Walter Raleigh: 1584”, The Avalon Project, Yale Law School, https://avalon.law.yale.edu/16th_century/raleigh.asp.14
Malinda Maynor Lowery, “We Have Always Been a Free People: Encountering Europeans”, in The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2018), 16–39; Michael Leroy Oberg and David Moore, “Voyages to Carolina: Europeans in the Indians’ Old World”, in New Voyages to Carolina: Reinterpreting North Carolina History, ed. Larry E. Tise and Jeffrey J. Crow (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017), 41–59.15
Timothy Sweet, “Filling the Field: The Roanoke Images of John White and Theodor de Bry”, in A Keener Perception: Ecocritical Studies in American Art, edited by Alan C. Braddock and Christoph Irmscher (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2009), 25. For further recent analysis of these images, see Michael Gaudio, Engraving the Savage: The New World and Techniques of Civilization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008); Ed Simon, “The Construction of America, in the Eyes of the English”, JSTOR Daily, 4 December 2019, https://daily.jstor.org/the-construction-of-america-in-the-eyes-of-the-english.16
Joseph M. Herbert and Mark A. Mathis, “An Appraisal and Re-evaluation of the Prehistoric Pottery Sequence of Southern Coastal North Carolina”, in Indian Pottery of the Carolinas, edited by David G. Anderson (Columbia: Council of South Carolina Professional Archaeologists, 1996), 136–189.17
Thomas Hariot, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (New York: J. Sabin & Sons, 1871), 54.18
Sweet observes that de Bry’s use of doubling figures was a means of showing off and of placing the more data-oriented depictions of White into an aesthetic convention and landscape that was more comprehensible to Europeans. Sweet, “Filling the Field”, 26.19
Phillip Evans, Eric Klingelhofer, and Nicholas Luccketti, An Archaeological Brief for Site X: A Summary of Investigations of Site 31BR246 (Durham, NC: First Colony Foundation, 2015), 2.20
David Beers Quinn, The Roanoke Voyages, 1584–1590 (London: Taylor & Francis, 2017), 103.21
Hariot, A Briefe and True Report, 63. We have chosen not to reproduce the name of the statue given our lack of familiarity with Secotan belief systems and not knowing if naming the mentioned possible Being would be appropriate in this context. This approach is informed by the perspective of one of the authors as an Anishinaabe, where the cultural understanding is that the names of certain spirits or non-human beings should not be said, repeated, or written outside certain contexts.22
Glenn Adamson, “The American Arcanum: Porcelain and the Alchemical Tradition”, Ceramics in America, 2007: 94–119.23
This trio of Chinese porcelain objects is associated with the family of Elizabeth I’s adviser William Cecil, Lord Burghley. The pieces may have been a bequest from the colonizer of Virginia, Sir Walter Raleigh, to Lord Burghley’s son Robert. Christina H. Nelson and Oliver R. Impey, The Cecil Family Collects: Four Centuries of Decorative Arts from Burghley House (Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 1998), 60.24
Anna Grasskamp, “Frames of Appropriation: Foreign Artifacts on Display in Early Modern Europe and China”, in Qing Encounters: Artistic Exchanges between China and the West, ed. Petra Ten-Doesschate Chu and Ning Ding (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2015), 32. See also Stacey Pierson, “The Movement of Chinese Ceramics: Appropriation in Global History”, Journal of World History 23, no. 1 (2012): 9–39; Japan Society, The Burghley Porcelains: An Exhibition from the Burghley House Collection and Based on the 1688 Inventory and 1690 Devonshire Schedule (New York: Japan Society, 1986).25
Eli F. Heckscher, Mercantilism, 2 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1955), 2: 25–26.26
Silver, A New Face on the Countryside, 86.27
On Cherokee communities and culture in the eighteenth century, see Robin Beck, Chiefdoms, Collapse, and Coalescence in the Early American South (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Tyler Boulware, Deconstructing the Cherokee Nation: Town, Region, and Nation among Eighteenth-Century Cherokees (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011); David H. Corkran, The Cherokee Frontier: Conflict and Survival, 1740–62 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962); Christopher B. Rodning, Center Places and Cherokee Towns: Archaeological Perspectives on Native American Architecture and Landscape in the Southern Appalachians (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2015); Daniel J. Tortora, Carolina in Crisis: Cherokees, Colonists and Slaves in the American Southeast, 1756–1763 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015); Greg Urban, “The Social Organizations of the Southeast”, in North American Indian Anthropology: Essays on Society and Culture, edited by Raymond J. DeMallie and Alfonso Ortiz (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994), 172–193.28
See also Mooney, History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas. Theda Perdue has also observed that “The Cherokee did not separate spiritual and physical realms but regarded them as one”. Theda Perdue, Cherokee Women: Gender and Culture Change, 1700–1835 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998), 27.29
Garrett, The Cherokee Herbal, 30.30
Mooney, History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas, 16, 183.31
While the Piedmont plateau contains blanket deposits, the highest-quality vein-like deposits run in a thin line along the fall line. H. Ries, W. S. Bayley, et al., High-Grade Clays of the Eastern United States (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1922), 18–19.32
“Mineralogical analysis of this clay from the most likely source mine (Iotla mine) in the Little Tennessee River catchment north of Franklin in Macon County, North Carolina, demonstrates that the clay comprises 90 percent halloysite and 10 percent kaolinite”. William R. H. Ramsay, Anton Gabszewicz, and E. G. Ramsay, “The Chemistry of ‘A’-Marked Porcelain and Its Relation to the Heylyn and Frye Patent of 1744”, Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle 18, pt. 2 (2003): 264–283.33
Brett H. Riggs, Sequoyah Professor of Cherokee Studies, in discussion with the authors, September 2021. When the British trader John Lawson travelled through the Carolinas in 1700, he recorded that Cherokee were known for their white clay pipes: “Where they find a Vein of white Clay, fit for their purpose, make Tobacco-pipes, all which are often transported to other Indians, that perhaps have greater Plenty of Deer and other Game”. John Lawson, A New Voyage to Carolina (London, 1709), 208.34
“Cherokee Domestic Crafts—Pottery”, The People’s Paths, 27 August 2007, http://www.thepeoplespaths.net/Cherokee/WendellCochran/CCNotes-DomesticCrafts.htm; Barbara Duncan, Brett H. Riggs, Christopher B. Rodning, and Mickel Yantz, Cherokee Pottery: People of One Fire (Tahlequah, OK: Cherokee Heritage Press, 2007), 9.35
Bonita Freeman-Witthoft, “Formal Games in the Cherokee Ritual Cycle”, Expedition 30, no. 2 (1988): 53–60.36
Freeman-Witthoft, “Formal Games”.37
Duane H. King, ed., The Memoirs of Lieutenant Henry Timberlake: The Story of a Soldier, Adventurer, and Emissary to the Cherokees, 1756–1765 (Chapel Hill, NC: Museum of the Cherokee Indian Press, 2007), 33.38
In 1712 North Carolina and South Carolina became two different colonies.39
William L. Ramsey, The Yamasee War: A Study in Culture, Economy, and Conflict in the Colonial South (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2008), 153.40
The Hammerton map is the earlier of two known copies of a famous, now lost, map drawn by Colonel John Barnwell, an “Indian fighter and frontier settler” known for his involvement in the Tuscarora War of 1711. For a detailed reading of the Hammerton map, see Alejandra Dubcovsky, “A Colonial Snapshot: Reading William Hammerton’s ‘Map of the Southeastern Part of North America, 1721’”, Common Place: The Journal of Early American Life, July 2012, https://commonplace.online/article/a-colonial-snapshot.41
On the eighteenth-century history of Native American allegorical figures in British visual culture, see Stephanie Pratt, American Indians in British Art, 1700–1840 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2013), 12–30.42
Nancy Shoemaker, A Strange Likeness: Becoming Red and White in Eighteenth-Century North America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 131–132.43
Lawson remarks: “when they go to War, … they buy Vermillion of the Indian Traders, wherewith they paint their Faces all over red, and commonly make a Circle of Black about one Eye, and another Circle of White about the other, whilst others bedawb their Faces with Tobacco-Pipe Clay”. Lawson, A New Voyage, 192.44
Cited in Shoemaker, A Strange Likeness, 172 nn. 34–35. See also James Adair, Adair’s History of the American Indians, edited by Samuel Cole Williams (New York: Promontory Press, 1973), 167.45
Adair, History, 100.46
Gordon Mercer and Marcia Mercer, “Wedgwood Pottery: Early Cherokee Unaker Mining in Franklin, NC”, Global Digital Post, 27 April 2012, http://www.releasewire.com/press-releases/wedgwood-pottery-early-cherokee-unaker-mining-in-franklin-nc-139324.htm. Archaeological excavations documented in the work of Christopher Rodning have shown the traces of kaolin encircling the foundations of Cherokee townhouses and paving ceremonial streets at Nikwasi. Rodning, Center Places and Cherokee Towns, 21. Adair described that “most of the Indians have clean, neat, dwelling houses, white-washed within and without, either with decayed oyster-shells, coarse-chalk, or white marly clay; one or other of which, each of our Indian nations abounds with, be they ever so far distant from the sea-shore; the Indians, as well as the traders, usually decorative their summer-houses with this favourite white wash”. Adair, History, 413.47
Ian Chambers, “The Empire Visits the Metropolis: The Red Atlantic, Spatial Habitus and the Cherokee”, Atlantic Studies 12, no. 1 (2015), 75.48
Alexander Cuming, “Account of the Cherokee Indians and of Sir Alexander Cumings’s Journey amongst Them”, Historical Register 16, no. 61 (1731), 12.49
Hunter and Gerhardt, “An Eighteenth-Century American True-Porcelain Punch Bowl”.50
Hunter and Gerhardt, “An Eighteenth-Century American True-Porcelain Punch Bowl”, 183.51
Bradford L. Rauschenberg, “Andrew Duche: A Potter ‘a Little Too Much Addicted to Politicks’”, Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts 17, no. 1 (May 1991), 47. Clearly this statement was factually incorrect since Meissen was making porcelain in 1710.52
Hunter and Gerhardt, “An Eighteenth-Century American True-Porcelain Punch Bowl”, 185.53
Stan Hoig, The Cherokees and Their Chiefs in the Wake of Empire (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1998), 44.54
Hoig, The Cherokees.55
Robert Hunter, “John Bartlam: America’s First Porcelain Manufacturer”, Ceramics in America, 2007: 193–195. The journal Ceramics in America, edited by Robert Hunter, has produced the largest body of research on Bartlam’s life and work since 2007: Lisa R. Hudgins, “John Bartlam’s Porcelain at Cain Hoy: A Closer Look”, Ceramics in America, 2007: 203–208; J. Victor Owen, Joe Petrus, and Xiang Yang, “Bonnin and Morris Revisited: The Geochemistry of a True-Porcelain Punch Bowl Excavated in Philadelphia”, Ceramics in America, 2016: 200–219; J. Victor Owen, John D. Greenough, and Nick Panes, “Statistical Evaluation of Analytical Data for Eighteenth-Century American and British Sulphurous Phosphatic Porcelains”, Ceramics in America, 2016: 162–178; Stanley South, “John Bartlam’s Porcelain at Cain Hoy, 1765–1770”, Ceramics in America, 2007: 196–202.56
Quoted in W. L. Anderson, “Cherokee Clay”, 485.57
Hudgins, “John Bartlam’s Porcelain”, 206.58
Alden T. Vaughan, Transatlantic Encounters: American Indians in Britain, 1500–1776 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 139–150, 165–174.59
Alden T. Vaughan, Transatlantic Encounters: American Indians in Britain, 1500–1776 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 139–150, 165–174.60
Susan C. Power, Art of the Cherokee: Prehistory to the Present (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2007), 50.61
Tortora, Carolina in Crisis, 173–180.62
Heckscher, Mercantilism, 2: 25–26; Bunn, “The Aesthetics of British Mercantilism”, 313.63
The importance of the 1744 Bow patent diminished in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but recent scholarship has argued “that far from being unworkable, experimental, or hesitant, the 1744 patent of Heylyn and Frye is one of the major documents in English ceramic history”. William R. H. Ramsay, Frank A. Davenport, and Elizabeth G. Ramsay, “The 1744 Ceramic Patent of Heylyn and Frye: ‘Unworkable Unaker Formula’ or Landmark Document in the History of English Ceramics?”, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 118, no. 1 (2006), 12; see also William R. H. Ramsay, Anton Gabszewicz, and E. G. Ramsay, “‘Unaker’ or Cherokee Clay and Its Relationship to the ‘Bow’ Porcelain Manufactory”, English Ceramic Circle Transactions 17, pt. 3 (2001): 473–499.64
Sean Bottomley, “The British Patent Series during the Industrial Revolution, 1700–1851”, University of Cambridge, http://www.lem.sssup.it/WPLem/documents/bottomley_lemseminar.pdf.65
Ramsay, Davenport, and Ramsay, “The 1744 Ceramic Patent of Heylyn and Frye”, 14.66
Ramsay, Davenport, and Ramsay, “The 1744 Ceramic Patent of Heylyn and Frye”, 14.67
Ramsay, Davenport, and Ramsay, “The 1744 Ceramic Patent of Heylyn and Frye”, 13.68
Dolan, Wedgwood, 75–76.69
Ramsay, Hansen, and Ramsay, “An ‘A-Marked’ Porcelain Covered Bowl”, 70.70
Ramsay, Hansen, and Ramsay, “An ‘A-Marked’ Porcelain Covered Bowl”, 70.71
Kevin J. Gardner, “John Gay, Court Patronage, and the Fables”, Reinardus 27, no. 1 (2015): 98–111.72
John Gay, Fables (London: J. Tonson & J. Watts, 1728), 21–22.73
Anne Anlin Cheng, “Conversation between Danielle Wu and Anne Anlin Cheng”, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, New York, premiered on 22 June 2019, YouTube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DWAcSIdsmA, 35:35–37:00. This idea is also echoed by Elaine Freedgood as “‘normative identity’ is often constructed on the run, after the need for it is realized because of the presence of something alien or something that needs to be made alien”. Freedgood, The Ideas in Things, 45.74
Cheng, “Conversation between Daniella Wu and Anne Anlin Cheng”.75
Quoted in Bunn, “The Aesthetics of British Mercantilism”, 311.76
Smith further divides the “peculiar produce of America into three categories: “some for conveniency and use, some for pleasure, and some for ornament”. Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1778), 2: 192.77
W. L. Anderson, “Cherokee Clay”, 499–509.78
He conducted experiments with porcelain in 1773, recorded a Chinese recipe for porcelain in his commonplace book in 1775, but never manufactured porcelain. Reilly, Wedgwood Jasper, 71.79
Reilly, Wedgwood Jasper, 89–90, 99. Research conducted by George L. Miller and Robert Hunter has “not recorded a single vessel produced by Wedgwood painted in a chinoiserie style with a blue tinted glaze”. George L. Miller and Robert Hunter, “How Creamware Got the Blues: The Origins of China Glaze and Pearlware”, Ceramics in America, 2001, 150.80
Thomas Bentley and Josiah Wedgwood, Wedgwood’s Catalogue of Cameos, Intaglios, Medals, Bas-Reliefs, Busts, and Small Statues (London: Cadel, 1773), 57.81
Bentley and Wedgwood, Catalogue, 58.82
Eliza Meteyard, The Life of Josiah Wedgwood from His Private Correspondence and Family Papers in the Possession of Joseph Mayer (London: Hurst & Blackett, 1866), 80.83
W. L. Anderson, “Cherokee Clay”, 488–9.84
Unaker is listed in every colour except two blacks and a yellow. Meteyard, Life, 80.85
Bunn, “The Aesthetics of British Mercantilism”, 312.86
This gallery presented Thomas Hollis’s collection, which he gave to the British Museum in 1756/7. It contained “Roman gods, heroes, etc and some more Etruscan vessels. Some large earthen jars, which the antients use for the filtration of liquids. American Idols. They are made of earth, and either burnt or hardened in the sun”. A Companion to All the Principal Places of Curiosity and Entertainment in and about London and Westminster (London: J. Drew, 1800), 175–176.87
Simon, “The Construction of America”.88
Quoted in Pratt, American Indians in British Art, 23.89
Tobias George Smollett, “An Account of the CHEROKEE Nation”, British Magazine, or, Monthly Repository for Gentlemen & Ladies 3 (July 1762): 377–378.90
Josiah Wedgwood to Thomas Bentley, 15 December 1777, V&A Wedgwood Collection, E25-18802. This letter has been the subject of much debate with regards to the use of unaker within jasper. See Reilly, Wedgwood Jasper, 89–90.91
Reilly, Wedgwood Jasper, 89–90.92
Neil McKendrick, “Josiah Wedgwood and Factory Discipline”, Historical Journal 4, no. 1 (1961): 30–55. See also Nancy Hirschland Ramage, “The English Etruria: Wedgwood and the Etruscans”, Etruscan Studies 14 (2011): 187–199.93
William Hamilton, Collection of Etruscan, Greek, and Roman Antiquities from the Cabinet of the Honourable William Hamilton (London, 1766), 1: Plates 127–129.94
John Oldmixon, The British Empire in America, Containing the History of the Discovery, Settlement, Progress and Present State of All the British Colonies, on the Continent and Islands of America (London: John Nicholson, 1708), 92.95
Oldmixon, The British Empire in America, 92.96
On Wedgwood’s showroom practices in the 1770s, see Malcolm Baker, “A Rage for Exhibitions: The Display and Viewing of Wedgwood’s Frog Service”, in The Genius of Wedgwood, edited by Hilary Young (London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1995), 118–127.97
Adair, History, 2–15.98
The men knew each other through James Brindley, who sat for a portrait by Parson and who was a member of the Lunar Society. Jenny Uglow, The Lunar Men: Five Friends whose Curiosity Changed the World (London: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2003), 262.99
Pratt, American Indians in British Art, 54; Adair, History, 76.100
Pratt, American Indians in British Art, 53.101
Josiah Wedgwood to Thomas Bentley, 15 December 1777, V&A Wedgwood Collection, E25-18802.102
Reilly, Wedgwood Jasper, 69–71.103
It is thought that Wedgwood had run out of unaker by the early 1780s and was using a domestic substitute, but a note by Francis Wedgwood mentions that “two arkfuls” of Cherokee clay remained in the round house some forty-eight years later, hinting at Wedgwood’s struggle to control this material. Reilly, Wedgwood Jasper, 89–90.104
Reilly, Wedgwood Jasper, 327.105
Susan Gray Detweiler and Christine Meadows, George Washington’s Chinaware (New York: Abrams, 2009), 54, 57; Susan R. Stein, The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello (New York: Abrams, 1993), 86.106
Richard Dyer, White: Essays on Race and Culture (London: Taylor & Francis, 1997), 19.107
Reilly, Wedgwood Jasper, 71.108
Reilly, Wedgwood Jasper, 75.109
Letters of Josiah Wedgwood, edited by Katherine Euphemia Farrer (London: E. J. Morten, 1973), 3: 104.110
Arabindan-Kesson, Black Bodies, White Gold, 20.111
The ideology of Indigenous disappearance would produce the discipline of salvage anthropology two hundred years later. Margaret Bruchac, Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American Anthropologists (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2018), xii.112
Josiah Wedgwood, An Address to the Workmen in the Pottery, on the Subject of Entering into the Service of Foreign Manufacturers. By Josiah Wedgwood, F.R.S. Potter to Her Majesty (Newcastle, Staffordshire: J. Smith, 1883), 9. See also Onni Gust, Unhomely Empire: Whiteness and Belonging, c.1760–1830 (London: Bloomsbury, 2020), 95.113
Letters of Josiah Wedgwood, 3: 146.114
An article in Mangum’s hometown newspaper is the only public record of her involvement in the project. Sally Smith, “A Heritage Cast in Cherokee Clay”, Fayetteville Observer, 26 January 1986, 1.115
Betty Mangum, oral history interview with R. Ruthie Dibble, Joseph Mizhakii Zordan, and Michael Ausbon, 15 December 2021.116
Betty Mangum, oral history interview.117
Betty Mangum, oral history interview.118
Adair, James. Adair’s History of the American Indians, edited by Samuel Cole Williams. New York: Promontory Press, 1973.
Adamson, Glenn. “The American Arcanum: Porcelain and the Alchemical Tradition”. Ceramics in America, 2007: 94–119.
Anderson, Jennifer. Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015.
Anderson, William L. “Cherokee Clay, from Duché to Wedgwood: The Journal of Thomas Griffiths, 1767–1768”. North Carolina Historical Review 63, no. 4 (October 1986): 477–510.
Arabindan-Kesson, Anna. Black Bodies, White Gold: Art, Cotton, and Commerce in the Atlantic World. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2021.
Baker, Malcolm. “A Rage for Exhibitions: The Display and Viewing of Wedgwood’s Frog Service”. In The Genius of Wedgwood, edited by Hilary Young, 118–127. London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1995.
Beck, Robin. Chiefdoms, Collapse, and Coalescence in the Early American South. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
Beckert, Sven. Empire of Cotton: A Global History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.
Benfey, Christopher. Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay: Reflections on Art, Family, and Survival. New York: Penguin, 2013.
Bentley, Thomas, and Josiah Wedgwood. Wedgwood’s Catalogue of Cameos, Intaglios, Medals, Bas-Reliefs, Busts, and Small Statues. London: Cadel, 1773.
Bottomley, Sean. “The British Patent Series during the Industrial Revolution, 1700–1851”. University of Cambridge. http://www.lem.sssup.it/WPLem/documents/bottomley_lemseminar.pdf.
Boulware, Tyler. Deconstructing the Cherokee Nation: Town, Region, and Nation among Eighteenth-Century Cherokees. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011.
Bruchac, Marge. Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American Anthropologists. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2018.
Bunn, James H. “The Aesthetics of British Mercantilism”. New Literary History 11, no. 2 (Winter 1980): 303–321.
Chambers, Ian. “The Empire Visits the Metropolis: The Red Atlantic, Spatial Habitus and the Cherokee”. Atlantic Studies 12, no. 1 (2015): 67–89.
“Charter to Sir Walter Raleigh: 1584”. The Avalon Project, Yale Law School. https://avalon.law.yale.edu/16th_century/raleigh.asp.
Cheng, Anne Anlin. “Conversation between Danielle Wu and Anne Anlin Cheng”. Tiger Strikes Asteroid, New York. Premiered on 22 June 2019. YouTube video, 35:35–37:00. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DWAcSIdsmA.
Cheng, Anne Anlin. Ornamentalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019.
“Cherokee Domestic Crafts—Pottery”. The People’s Paths, 27 August 2007. http://www.thepeoplespaths.net/Cherokee/WendellCochran/CCNotes-DomesticCrafts.htm.
Cherokee Nation. “Word List”. Cherokee Language / ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ. https://language.cherokee.org/word-list.
Chu, Petra ten-Doesschate, Ning Din, and Lidy Jane Chu. Qing Encounters: Artistic Exchanges between China and the West. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2015.
Colls, Robert, and Phillip Dodd (eds.). Englishness: Politics and Culture, 1880–1920. London: Croom Helm, 1986.
A Companion to All the Principal Places of Curiosity and Entertainment in and about London and Westminster. London: J. Drew, 1800.
Corkran, David H. The Cherokee Frontier: Conflict and Survival, 1740–62. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962.
Cuming, Alexander. “Account of the Cherokee Indians and of Sir Alexander Cumings’s Journey amongst Them”. Historical Register 16, no. 61 (1731): 1–14.
de Waal, Edmund. The White Road: A Pilgrimage of Sorts. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2015.
Detweiler, Susan Gray, and Christine Meadows. George Washington’s Chinaware. New York: Abrams, 2009.
Dolan, Brian. Wedgwood: The First Tycoon. New York: Viking, 2004.
Dubcovsky, Alejandra. “A Colonial Snapshot: Reading William Hammerton’s ‘Map of the Southeastern Part of North America, 1721’”. Common Place: The Journal of Early American Life, July 2012. https://commonplace.online/article/a-colonial-snapshot.
Duncan, Barbara, Brett H. Riggs, Christopher B. Rodning, and Mickel Yantz. Cherokee Pottery: People of One Fire. Tahlequah, OK: Cherokee Heritage Press, 2007.
Dyer, Richard. White: Essays on Race and Culture. London: Taylor & Francis, 1997.
Evans, Phillip, Eric Klingelhofer, and Nicholas Luccketti. An Archaeological Brief for Site X: A Summary of Investigations of Site 31BR246. Durham, NC: First Colony Foundation, 2015.
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- 30 November 2021
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- R. Ruthie Dibble, Joseph Mizhakii Zordan, "Cherokee Unaker, British Ceramics, and Productions of Whiteness in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Worlds", British Art Studies, Issue 21, https://doi.org/10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-21/dibblezordan