One of the fascinations of collecting Native American art is that it represents an origin bound to the centuries past. Every piece is fabricated, decorated and fired using techniques perfected in the Southwest sometime between 700 AD and 1200 AD, the period of the Anasazi, Hohokam, Mogollon, Mimbres and other prehistoric ancestors of today's artisans.
Pottery making is concentrated in the Pueblos of the Southwest, primarily because these were inhabited by the farmers of the past. As such, they were mostly sedentary, and thus they substituted more functional, but fragile pots for hide bags, twine bags and baskets.
Today, there are at least 30 Indian communities that make pottery. However, we have concentrated our previous selections on those pueblos that are most important in the area of making fine pottery. There are several more pueblos where there are important resident potters, and this is our section devoted to them. It is not that they are less important, it is only that they have fewer members making fine pottery. We invite you to continue on and see work by these potters, most of whom have been blue-ribbon winners and accepted by collectors of note.
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- All dimensions are approximate. -
Daryl Candelaria, San Felipe
In this day of "more of the same," Daryl Candelaria is a true innovator. His art is pottery shard art, and for this he is uniquely qualified. You see, for several years Daryl worked at the School of American Research in Santa Fe. There, he studied SAR's collection of contemporary and historic pottery, and their shards from prehistoric pottery. He uses these patterns in his "sampler" style jars. Also, Daryl is an award winning artist, having won a first in class and a first in division at the 1999 Indian Market, both with a shard jar similar to the one above. He also has won firsts at the Eight Northern Pueblos show. In 2000, he retired from potting, and went to work in the San Felipe tribal government. Now, after seven years of not potting, this fine artist is returning to making pottery. We think Daryl is truly unique, and that his work is a real collector's find.
Item# P890-Daryl Candelaria, San Felipe.
Daryl has carved and painted 22 classic shards on this jar. He has included styles of the Pueblos along the Rio Grande, as well as historic and prehistoric shards. For this jar, Daryl has drawn a graphic of both sides, and numbered and named each shard. Click here to see this graphic.
Size: 6 1/2" high by 9" diameter.
Item# P889-Daryl Candelaria, San Felipe.
Here, Daryl has carved and painted 21 classic shards on this jar. He has included styles of the Pueblos along the Rio Grande, as well as historic and prehistoric shards. For this jar, Daryl has drawn a graphic of both sides, and numbered and named each shard. Click here to see this graphic.
Size: 6 1/4" high by 8 1/4" diameter.
Item# P892-Daryl Candelaria, San Felipe.
For this cylinder vase, Daryl has carved and painted 15 classic shards on this jar. He has included styles of the contemporary Pueblos as well as shards from Chaco, Kayenta, Mimbres and more. Again, for this jar, Daryl has drawn a graphic of both sides, and numbered and named each shard. Click here to see this graphic.
Size: 8 1/2" high by 5 3/8" diameter.
Item# P437-Daryl Candelaria, San Felipe.
In this larger jar, Daryl has represented 27 shards, all from prehistoric references—Anasazi, Hohokam, pinch pots, Kayenta, Mimbres, etc., and even kiva murals from Pottery Mound, NM.
Size: 11 1/4" high by 9" diameter.
Item# P816 -Lonnie Vigil, Nambe.
Lonnie Vigil is the Nambe potter. Winning the "Best of Classification" award at the 2005 Santa Fe Indian Market, Lonnie is known for his use of micaceous clay. His shapes are derived from classic cooking and storage ware used by people of his pueblo. His clay produces pottery with a soft, textured finish. Before returning to his pueblo, Lonnie earned a degree in business administration and built a career as a financial and business consultant in New Mexico and in Washington, DC. He claimed this was an empty life and when "Clay Mother" talked to him, he returned to the Nambe Pueblo. His great-grandmother and his great-aunts were all potters. Lonnie credits their guidance for his success. Now, he has become an acclaimed potter. Lonnie makes only a few of the smaller jars, and this is one of those rare exceptions. It is a chance for some collector to have a Vigil piece.
Size: 7" high by 9" diameter.
Item# P757 -Alice Cling, Navajo.
Alice was raised and still lives in the area west of Kayenta, and north of Black Mesa. She and her family are among the few really good Navajo potters. Unfortunately, the Navajos were not recruited by the early railroad tourist promoters, like the potters from the Rio Grande pueblos, or the Acoma, Zuni, and Hopi Pueblos. So, Navajos made pottery for utilitarian purposes. Alice was trained in her art by her mother, Rose Williams, and by her aunt, Grace Barlow. These two potters pioneered in bring artistic proportions to Navajo pottery. Although Alice started making pottery as a young girl, she has not become a recognized potter until the last decade. She now makes wonderfully symmetric shapes is her style of simple, brown pottery. As with most Navajo pottery, each piece receives a final coating of pinion tree pitch, applied while the pot is still very warm.
Size: 6 1/4" high by 7 1/2" diameter.
Item# P770-Alice Cling, Navajo.
Item# P898 -Alice Cling, Navajo.
All of Alice's pottery is traditionally made. Alice and her family dig the brown clay from a deposit on Black Mesa, not far from where they live. They process the clay, clean and sift it, add water to make it plastic and workable. Alice coils the clay, and forms the coils into the rough shape of the finished pot. After drying, she scrapes and sands the clay to form a thin wall. After this, she applies a red slip, and polishes this to a very smooth, even finish. This is where the work comes in, according to Alice. "Polishing takes more time than anything else, but polishing is what really makes the difference." She then fires her pots in an outside, primitive kiln, using local juniper wood. The primitive methods are what give her pottery the beautiful brown color, accented by the black fire cloud finish. Like Navajo potters from the earliest times, she applies a light coating of warmed pitch to the warm pots as they come out of the fire, and burnishes this down to produce the final gloss that distinguish her work.
Size: 6 3/8" high by 4 1/4" diameter.
Item# P897-Alice Cling, Navajo.
Alice is noted for the graceful shapes of her pottery. Here is a beautiful jar with the characteristic and beautiful brown color of her work. All of her pieces are made using traditional Indian pottery methods. This means that she does not use the potters wheel to achieve symmetry, but only hand shaping as she coils the pot.
Size: 4 3/4" high by 5 1/4" diameter.
Item# P894-Alice Cling, Navajo.
Item# P895-Alice Cling, Navajo.
Alice's classic are smooth-walled pottery. However, she often adds a decorative band, as with this jar. To carve the decoration, she uses a flattened nail, stuck into a wooden handle.
Size: 53/8" high by 4" diameter.
Item# P896-Alice Cling, Navajo.
Item# P326-Ida Sahmie, Navajo.
Ida, a Navajo, has been making pottery since the early 1980s, and is most recognized for painting her pottery with the Navajo Nightway Chant figures. In this Navajo healing ceremony, there is a ceremonial dance on the last of nine nights; it is called the Yei-be-Chai. In this dance, six male and six female dancers are led by "Talking God," the chief god, and followed by "Water Sprinkler," the trickster and rain god. This is the motif portrayed on this jar, above. Ida is married to a Hopi, Andy Sahmie, so she currently lives on the Hopi Reservation. Because of her husband, she uses Hopi clay; so her work is what you might call a mixture of Hopi and Navajo. For a close-up of the Yei-be-Chai figures, click here.
Size: 6 1/2" high by 7 1/2" diameter.
Item# P456-Ida Sahmie, Navajo.
In this canteen, Ida has interpreted the Father Sky and Mother Earth sandpainting, in her own unique approach and style. Father Sky as a complete character is typically on the left, and here Ida has put a half-Father Sky on the right, with the moon and the big dipper constellation. On the left, she has situated a half-Mother earth, with her typical, four sacred plants at the midline of the two halves. (The sacred plants are corn, beans, squash and tobacco.) The head of a male figure is typically square, and the head of a female figure is typically round. As you can see, the head of her figure is part square and part round. The figure is surrounded by a rainbow emblem. Its artistic license, but it is indeed a very interesting interpretation. Again, the base color is the polished, not slipped, light tan Hopi clay, traditionally fired.
Size: 7" high by 5 5/8" wide.
Item# P854 - Harrison Begay, Jr., Diné.
The bear is a sacred animal among the Navajos, and among many other Native American cultures. Here, Harrison illustrates the bear in three cultures--the Navajo running bear, the Santa Clara mother bear, and the Zuni heartline bear. Typically, the bear is a symbol of strength. Carved pictograph symbols separate the three bears. You will note that Harrison has used both polished and matte surfaces for contrast and emphasis.
Size: 7 1/8" high by 6 1/4" diameter.
Item# P855 - Harrison Begay, Jr., Diné.
Harrison has used a buffalo with heartline design, on one quadrant; and a bear with heartline on the one quadrant, and then repeated the design. The bear design is used by most of the Rio Grande Pueblo potters, and is supposed to represent virility and strength. The buffalo is used by the Rio Grande people as a reference to the Plains Indians who came to the Rio Grande pueblos to trade. The heartline, borrowed from the Zunis, represent health, long life and good luck. This is a fine example of Harrison's break with tradition in design, and his innovative use of matte and polished surfaces. He uses traditional Santa Clara methods, polishing, carving, and firing. One notable characteristic of Harrison's pottery is their bold, deep carvings, but his pots are comparatively light in weight. This is because the depths of the carvings produce a very thin wall, hence the lightness. To get this light weight, he says he sometimes carves right through the wall, and when this happens, the pot is returned to the clay bin and he starts over. Harrison is a regular winner of awards at shows such as the Santa Fe Indian Market and the Heard Museum Show. At the 2005 Santa Fe Indian Market, Harrison won both a first and a third place ribbon in the category for carved pottery.
Size: 7 1/4" high by 6 1/4" diameter.
Item# P562 - Harrison Begay, Jr., Diné.
Harrison calls this piece "Tribute to the Ancestors." He has used his secret method of producing a dark chocolate color, and formed the jar into a rounded cube. Anasazi symbols include the image of a spiral on one side; a hand and small star and a bright star; a representation of a sun; and a new arrangement of the hand and star. The spiral comes from Anasazi petroglyphs which are interpreted as a symbol of emergence from the underworld. The hand is a common Anasazi symbol, interpreted as a form of signature. (It is frequently seen in prehistoric rock art, perhaps an early symbol for "Kilroy was here.") The Anasazi stars are two sizes. The large one indicates the morning star. The complex circle represents the sun. At least these are the ideas of the artist.Harrison is one of the contemporary pottery artists pushing the envelope for new designs and new styles. He is noted for his fine polish and unusual use of matte finished areas. Although he is Navajo, he works in New Mexico in a traditional Santa Clara blackware pottery style, learned from his former wife’s family–the respected Santa Clara Naranjo family. His motifs include those designs traditional among the Rio Grande Pueblos, as well as those from traditional Navajo and Anasazi designs.
Size: 7 1/4" high. On the flats, 6 3/4 ' wide.
On the corners, 8" wide.
Item# P563 - Harrison Begay, Jr., Diné.
In this beautiful carved jar, Harrison has used a bear with heartline design, on one side; and a cloud and lightning design on one side. The bear design is used by most of the Rio Grande Pueblo potters, and is supposed to represent virility and strength. The cloud and lightning designs represent life-giving rain, an essential to the Pueblo farmers and their families. Although a Navajo, Harrison spent a number of years at the Santa Clara Pueblo, with his then wife. It was here that he learned to pot, and so has adopted the carved, black polished style of that Pueblo to his innovative designs.
Size: 5" high by 4 3/4" diameter.
Item# P589 - Harrison Begay, Jr., Diné.
Here, Harrison has carved the classic Pueblo bear silhouette, with heartline. The pattern is repeated in each third of the jar. He has used the micaceous slip for the unpolished bears, and has polished the top and bottom circumference of the jar.
Size: 4 3/8" high by 4 31/2" diameter.
Item# P929 - Harrison Begay, Jr., Diné.
This is a smaller jar that was fired by Harrison, using his secret process of creating a brown color. He has carved a bear on one side, with a constellation on its hip, and a heartline in the center. One the other side, Harrison has carved a buffalo, with the same constellation on its hip, and a similar heartline. He has used various geometric figures on the sides, separating the two main figures.
Size: 4 1/2" high by 4 3/8" diameter.
About Zuni Potters
In the 1940s, pottery was a dying art among the Zunis. It was revived by Hopi potter Daisy Hooee, daughter of Annie Healing Nampeyo, and granddaughter of the famous Hopi potter, Nampeyo. In the '20s, Daisy received a scholarship from a benefactor and studied ceramics in Paris for two years. She returned to the States and eventually married a Zuni, Sidney Hooee, and lived with her husband in the Zuni Pueblo. She taught pottery making in the Zuni high school for a number of years in the 1960s and '70s. During this period, Daisy taught mostly older women, and taught traditional methods, as passed down from her grandmother and mother. She was followed by Jennie Laate, an Acoma woman married to a Zuni. It was Jennie who introduced the commercial kiln, and that is what is used by most Zuni potters, today.
However, we only deal in Zuni potters who use traditional methods in the other steps of their pottery. By way of example, Noreen Simplicio digs her clay from the traditional Zuni clay beds, processes the clay to a plastic form, coils, forms and polishes her work using traditional methods, and makes her own paint pigments that are fired on the ware; but she fires in a commercial kiln.
Item# P766-Noreen Simplicio, Zuni.
In our opinion, Noreen is one of the best Zuni potters. Although still young, she has been potting for 20 years. Her work is very imaginative. One of her trademarks is cliff dwelling village scenes in three dimension. Here, she has executed a cliff dwelling scene around the rim of this olla. She has carved this scene around both the inside and outside perimeter. For a close-up of the rim, click here. Additionally, she has painted the Zuni deer, birds, and the Zuni rosette design. The patterns repeat on each side of the olla.
Size: 9" high by 8 1/4" diameter.
Item# P828-Noreen Simplicio, Zuni.
Here is another variation of Noreen's famous village design, a pueblo scene around the top, with a classic Zuni decoration on the perimeter. She has decorated the jar with the classic Zuni "heartline" deer, and birds. For a close-up view of the top rim, click here.
Size: 10" high by 7" diameter.
Item# P825-Noreen Simplicio, Zuni.
One of Noreen's unique and creative ideas is the use of three-dimensional geckos. In this jar, she has a 3-D gecko in each quadrant. Geckos are good-luck charms for the Zunis. For a close-up view of a gecko, click here.
Size: 7" high by 6 1/4" diameter.
Item# P826-Noreen Simplicio, Zuni.
Noreen and her geckos. Here, she has two geckos on the rim, and one inside the bowl. The Zuni deer with heartline appears on each side of this piece.
Size: 5" high by 5 3/4" diameter.
Item# P827-Noreen Simplicio, Zuni.
This is a smaller gecko seed jar. She has two geckos, one coming out of a hole in the pot, one lounging on the pot as they would if it were a warm rock. A pair of heartline deer appear on each half of this jar.
Size: 2 3/4" high by 4 3/4" diameter.
Item# P423-Randy Nahohai, Zuni.
Randy is from a famous Zuni family of potters—his mother, Josephine; and his brother, Milford. Here he has executed an olla with the heartline deer on two sides and the Zuni rosette design on opposite quarters. Although it may look contemporary, the rosette design can be traced back to prehistoric pottery found on the Zuni reservation. Randy and his wife, Rowena Him, gather all of their body clays and paint clays from local sources, mostly from Pia Mesa near Zuni village. The one exception is the micaceous clay paint they get from friends who live north of Santa Fe, and gather it from natural sources. Randy has used some of the micaceous clay paint on this olla.
Size: 7" high by 7 1/2" diameter.
Price: $425 SOLD.
Item# P425-Rowena Him, Zuni.
Rowena is a potter, as is her husband, Randy Nahohai. Rowena attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, where she did study pottery. However, she credits her real knowledge coming from Randy and his family. She and Randy have spent many hours looking at prehistoric Zuni pottery collected in museums all over the US. Here, she has produced a duck effigy canteen. This is a coiled piece, not slip-cast.
Size: 7" high, by 4 3/4" wide, by 7 1/4" long.
Price: $450 SOLD.
Item# P424-Rowena Him, Zuni.
Item# P706-Gladys Paquin, Laguna.
On this beautiful olla, Gladys has executed the Acoma double rainbow design, with flowers, and a dove. The pattern is repeated on the opposite side. The western Pueblos have a very close relationship with each other. Her father was a Zuni, but with their matriarchal society, she takes her mother's Pueblo, Laguna. Today, Gladys Paquin is the grande dame of Laguna potters. She uses all traditional methods, clay from the Laguna clay pit, coiling, forming, painting and firing. She has spent a great deal of time studying historic Laguna pieces in museums in New Mexico, Arizona and California. From this, she has incorporated many historic designs in her work. "It wasn't the tribe that did the pottery, it was an individual. I always wonder what the person was thinking about who did the original design. I didn't want to copy someone else's design, I just feel I am carrying on the other person's inspirations."
Size: 7 1/2" high by 8" diameter.
Item# P707-Gladys Paquin, Laguna.
Gladys makes very few wedding vases, and this is an exception. She interprets the two side pieces as being the sun in the sky, which brings light and happiness. The three triangles in the center, right, are symbols of fidelity. The symbol in the center, left, is a symbol of oneness.
Size: 8 1/2" high by 5 1/2" diameter.
Item# P526-Andrew Padilla, Laguna.
Andrew is the son of noted Laguna potter Gladys Paquin, above. He is best known for these white melon bowls which follow in the style of well-known Santa Clara potter, Helen Shupla. The technique, invented by Helen Shupla, is to push the clay out from the inside, in order to form the three dimensional segments of the melon. As you can imagine, this is very tricky; if the potter presses too fast or too much, he breaks through the clay. You have to be a very experienced potter to make melon bowls this way, the "old-fashioned way."
Size: 6" high by 10" diameter, lid is 2 1/4" high.
Item# P785-Andrew Padilla, Laguna.
Andrew has fashioned this simple, white canteen of the same clay he uses in all of his bowls. Here he has used the "bear paw" design, a design used by many of the Rio Grande Pueblos.
Size: Body is 5 1/4" diameter.
Item# P832-Andrew Padilla, Laguna.
Item# P830-Myrtle Cata, San Juan.
Myrtle has developed a style that is all her own. Some time ago, the San Juan tribal Co-Op offered pottery-making lessons. The teachers at that time were Tina Garcia and Sharon Garcia, both noted Santa Clara potters. Myrtle took the classes, and decided to focus on micaceous pottery, a style associated with the San Juan Pueblo; but then added shapes associated with Santa Clara pottery. Her fine pottery is evidence of the skills of her teachers and her own considerable talent.
Size: 9 1/2" high by 10 1/4" diameter.
Item# P405-Paulita Pacheco, Santo Domingo.
Paulita is the sister of Robert Tenorio, and Robert is the one who is credited with the revival of pottery in the Santo Domingo pueblo. The Santo Domingo people are best known for their turquoise jewelry. Robert went to art school at the Institute of American Indian Art, Santa Fe, originally to study jewelry making, but switched to pottery. He returned to his pueblo, and picked the minds of his mother, aunt and grandmother to learn whatever tradition still existed. At that time, in the 1970s, the few Santo Domingo potters were making utilitarian ware, stew bowls, dough bowls, etc. After his initial successes, he taught his sisters, Paulita and Hilda and Mary Edna. The family uses traditional methods, only.
Size: 9 1/2" high by 10 1/4" diameter.
Some of the pueblos and their best potters include: Isleta, Stella Teller, blue and grey storytellers, and members of her family.
Laguna, as mentioned above, their early work is similar to their neighbors, the Acomas. In Laguna we include the Analla family, brother Calvin and sister Yvonne; Gladys Pacquin and her son, Andrew Padilla; Evelyn Cheromiah and her daughters; and Minerva Saracino. We have recently been very impressed by the work coming from Yvone Analla Lucas. She works side-by-side with her husband, Steve Lucas, Hopi, but stays with the Laguna tradition.
Santo Domingo pottery is reminiscent of turn-of-the-century pottery in designs, but the walls tend to be thick. If you want a low cost "dough-bowl," you might look here. Santo Domingo family names include Melchor, Garcia, Agular, Bird, Lovato, Coriz, and Pacheco. Probably the best known is the Tenorio family.
Zia is located in an arid land west of the Rio Grande. Crops are nearly impossible. So, for several hundred years, the mainstay in Zia trade has been pottery. This necessity has made them better than average potters. From the same linguistic root as the Acomas and Lagunas, there is similarity in their styles, but notably the Zia trademark is a red clay base. The better Zia families include Medina, Gachupin, Pino, Negale, and Toribio.
About half way between the Rio Grande and the Hopi mesas lies Zuni. Classic Zuni is a white slip on a pinkish clay base. You typically see many water creatures (tadpoles, frogs), and geckos as effigies, and the classic deer with red heart-line. Pottery making in Zuni died out in the first half of this century, to be revived in the 1950s by no less than the granddaughter of Nampeyo, Daisy Healing who married Sidney Hooee, a Zuni. Daisy, a graduate of L'Ecole de Beaux Arts, Paris, taught pottery in the local Zuni high school, establishing a revival. She was followed by Jennie Laate, an accomplished potter from Acoma, who married a Zuni. One of the school's accomplished families are the Peynetsas. Other family names include: Kalestewa, Him, Nastario, Nahohai, and Simplecio.
Recently, Les Namingha has brought a resurgence in Zuni pottery. Another descendent of Nampeyo, Les's father is Hopi, of course, and his mother is Zuni. Les makes pots in both traditions. However, in 1997, he won the "Best of Classification, Pottery" at the Santa Fe Indian Market with a Zuni-styled pot, this is the Market's highest award for pottery. Since that time, he has been a consistent winner in the major shows. His wife, Jocelyn Quam Namingha is an excellent potter in her own right, having shown in several major shows.
- Recommended reading - Check Amazon.com. They stock most of these titles.
- Southern Pueblo Pottery, 2,000 Artist Biographies by Gregory Schaaf, CIAC Press, $110 (hard back);
- Southwestern Pottery, Anasazi to Zuni by Allan Hayes and John Blom, Northland Publishing, $21.95 (paper);
- Fourteen Families in Pueblo Pottery, by Rick Dillingham, University of New Mexico Press, $37.50 (paper);
- Hopi Pottery Symbols by Alex Patterson, Johnson Books, $17.95 (paper);
- Nampeyo and her Legacy by Barbara Kramer, University of New Mexico Press, $39.95 (cloth);
- Talking with the Clay, by Stephen Trimble, $15.95 (paper);
- Pueblo Storyteller by Barbara A. Babcock, $25.95 (paper);
- Generations In Clay, by Alfred E. Dittert, Jr., and Fred Plog, Northland Press;
- Living Tradition of Maria Martinezby Susan Peterson, $45.00 (paper)