Chapella, Grace – Open Bowl with Four Moths (1974)
This is a classic open bowl by Grace Chapella. She 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 was “White Squash Blossom”. She was one of the great Hopi matriarchs of the last century. Grace was the sister of Laura 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.
This open bowl is a large shape and it is fully polished on the front and back. The front has four of her classic moth designs. This is her most iconic image and one that she took from the ancient Sikyatki pottery design. Interestingly, the word for “moth” and “butterfly” is the same in Hopi. Most likely, these are hummingbird or hawk moths, which are common at Hopi. The back of the bowl is signed, “Grace Chapella” and then that she made it when she was 100 years old! Mark Tahbo told me that Alma Tahbo (Grace’s daughter) would write on the pieces Grace’s age once she got to be around 100 years old. This piece is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair. Definitely a piece of history!