Cata, Regina – Eagle Dancer Cloth Doll (1940’s)

10"w x 12.75"h

$ 800.00

Regina Cata (who was Spanish and married to Eulogio Cata of San Juan Pueblo) was an employee at the San Juan Day School.  She encouraged the formation of an art club to make mantas, ceremonial regalia, and household items embroidered by local Pueblo women.  The lessons learned in the embroidery of this club would later appear as inspiration in the carved style of pottery in the revival.

In 1930 Regina brought together a group of eight women who began this San Juan pottery revival.  Regina Cata, Crucita Cruz, Luteria Atencio, Reycita Trujillo, Tomasita Montoya, Crucita Talachy (Atencio), Gregorita Cruz and Crucita Trujillo.  Most likely they had seen the success of the pottery revival at San Ildefonso and Santa Clara Pueblos in the 1920’s.  Their initial idea was to revive a pre-Spanish style of pottery.  They took trips to Poge (the Ohkay Owingeh ancestral village) and also to the Museum of New Mexico, in order to find inspiration.

While Regina was known for her pottery, she is maybe better known for her dolls.  While she helped to initiate the San Juan pottery revival, by 1936 she was disappointed in the progress of the revival and began to work on her own making dolls and clay busts.  The Taos News wrote in 1960, “Mrs. Cata who spoke here last spring at the New Mexico State Folklore convention is famous among other things for her dolls“.  The Albuquerque Journal wrote in 1953, “Mrs. Regina Cata from San Juan, dolls are internationally known for their beauty of treatment and authenticity of styling. Each doll is dressed in miniature turquoise jewelry, narrative hair styling, buckskin leggings, and hand made blankets.“.  And as early as 1938, the Santa Fe New Mexican wrote, “The Indians of the Espanola valley villages have sent exhibits to Gallup for the ceremonial. Particularly noticeable was the collection of dolls made by Mrs. Regina Cata wife of the governor of San Juan Pueblo.

This doll is made from cloth and it is exceptional in detail.  The dance skirt it painted with a water serpent and has metal tassels at the bottom.  There are bells around the knees and detailed mocassins.  The eagle headdress is removable.  I had a stand made for the piece so that it would remain upright.  While it is not a piece of her clay-work, it actually speaks more to the origins of the 1930 Revival in pottery.  The influence on these women of embroidery and fabrics and how those designs influenced the pottery is manifest in this doll.  It is certainly a fascinating part of the history of Sun Juan Pueblo.  The doll is overall in very good condition with all the feathers and tassels intact.

“Revival Rising” Ohkay Owingeh Pottery 1930s-60s