Lonewolf, Joseph – Buffalo and Avanyu Seedpot (1975)
Beginning in the early 1970s, Joseph Lonewolf revolutionized the world of Santa Clara pottery by incorporating his sgraffito (lightly etching the surface of the clay) and incised (more deeply cut into the clay) designs. This piece is from 1975, the year before the publication of the “Pottery Jewels of Joseph Lonewolf”. It is an unusual piece with the buffalo head carved more deeply into the clay. The head of the buffalo has sgraffito etching for the fur and horns and is amazingly realistic. As the piece is turned, along the bottom is a feathered avanyu (water serpent). Opposite the buffalo is an incredibly detailed sash with etched designs representing the embroidery that would be seen in the cloth along with small feathers. Take a closer look at the matte area, which is more deeply etched into the clay than his later work. Joseph said of these designs:
“The Buffalo represents thunder. The serpent signifies water. The sash or embroidered band is the kilt worn by the men during the buffalo dance”. Joseph Lonewolf, Pottery Jewels (1975)
“The feathered water serpent has been used for generations. Some of the families have their own way of putting it and we have our own which is called the feathered serpent. We are the only ones that use this feathered serpent. Nobody else is using it. The avanyu is the “Giver of Life”. Joseph Lonewolf, “Joseph Lonewolf: A Personal Study” (1981).
The piece is fired red. I’m always amazing at his pieces from this early period and how thin-walled and lightweight they are for their size. He was masterful at his designs and continually creative in imagery and changing his techniques. The piece is signed on the bottom, “Joseph Lonewolf”. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.