Artist Media Series
This is a classic wide-shoulder jar by Grace Chapella. This piece is made using traditional Hopi clay and painted with bee-weed. The moth design is one for which Grace is the most famous for its revival. The story is that while Nampeyo of Hano began using the bird and migration patterns from the Sikyatki excavations around 1895, Grace was inspired by the butterfly or moth patterns. Interestingly, the word for moth and butterfly is the same in Hopi! This jar has three sections, each with a moth. Separating them are triangular designs representing the three Hopi mesas. Below are the stars at night (which is also an indication that they are moths and not butterflies). There is a black band around the shoulder and below are panels of cloud and rain designs. The jar has just a tiny neck. The jar is signed on the bottom “Grace Chapella”. It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair. There is some fugitive black, which is not unexpected for a piece of this age. It is definitely a piece of history!
Did you know Grace Chapella was born into the Bear Clan on February 14, 1874, at Tewa on First Mesa. She learned to make pottery from her mother, TaTung Pawbe, and also from Nampeyo of Hano, who was her neighbor. Her name in Tewa is “White Squash Blossom”. She was one of the great Hopi matriarchs of the last century. Grace was the sister of Laura Chapella Tomosie and Dalee, the mother of Alma Tahbo, and the great-grandmother of Mark Tahbo and Diana Tahbo. She led a remarkable life, becoming the first Hopi to fly in an airplane in 1927 and living over a century (107 years!). Grace revived designs from the Sikyatki ruins at the base of First Mesa and it is the classic butterfly or moth pattern for which she is the most famous.