Naha, Helen “Feather Woman” – Awatovi Star and Rain Clouds Long Neck Jar (1980s)
This is a complex painted long neck jar by Helen Naha, also known as “Feather Woman”. She created distinctive pottery using the white clay slip throughout her career. The designs were all painted using bee-weed (black) and natural clay slips. She learned to make pottery from her mother-in-law, Paqua Naha yet had her own style in form, imagery, and composition. Helen is known for her revival of the pre-historic Awatovi pottery. Awatovi is one of the ruins near Hopi where a white slipped style of pottery was made. It is a fascinating place as it was where Coronado made contact with the Hopi in 1540. During the excavations in the 1930s, the whiteware pottery was rediscovered. It was the imagery from this work that inspired much of Helen’s early pottery, as opposed to the more classic Sikyatki inspired pottery of Nampeyo.
This jar has the “Awatovi Star” pattern painted on the top and the bottom. The edges of the star are painted with red clay slip. Separating the star points are cloud designs. Around the shoulder is her classic “eternity band” design. The same design is repeated on the bottom. The jar has a wide shoulder and a long neck and the design accentuates the form. The jar has been traditionally fired and there is some slight variation to the color from the firing, which certainly adds to the beauty of the piece. The jar is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair. It is signed on the bottom with her hallmark feather.