Manygoats, Elizabeth – Jar with Navajo Scene
Elizabeth Manygoats is a daughter of noted potter Betty Manygoats. She is known for her folk-art style pottery with figures in relief or applique on the surface. Elizabeth says that she often emphasizes Navajo women and their daily lives in her work because “They’re the ones I look up to.” This jar is very thin walled and has a flat shoulder and straight neck. There is a lot going on around the jar and it is both clever and charming. There is a Navajo girl reading a book. Behind her is a subtle mesa and she is surrounded by a chicken and sheep (in relief). As the jar is turned, there is horse applique figure which is tied to a tree with a string. There is then a row of corn, clouds, and a small wagon. Finally, there is a classic Navajo hogan and sitting out front is a dog. The various colors are added to highlight the imagery. The jar is traditionally fired to create the variations in color to the clay surface. After the firing the entire piece is covered in pine pitch in the manner of traditional Navajo pottery. The piece is signed on the bottom in the clay, “EM.” Elizabeth has won numerous awards for her pottery over the years. It can also be found in museums throughout the southwest.
Why the horned lizard? “In the Diné culture Horned Toad is addressed as “grandpa” (shicheii). It possesses spiritual power. When you see one, pick it up and rub it on your chest and say, “I will be in good health and harmony.” If you have corn pollen sprinkle it as an offering and then let the horned lizard loose where you found it. You will then have good health and harmony. It is believed that the horned toad is dressed with an armored shield, which is called arrowhead. The spiky horns on the body represent the arrowheads. This protects the horned toad from predators. It was placed on earth with songs and prayers so that in the future the Diné would utilize it. The Diné still know and use its sacred prayers and songs for protection.” Traditional Dine Teachings on Wildlife (1998)