Ortiz, Seferina – “Pueblo Chess Set” 32 Clay Pieces (1970s)
This is an extraordinary set by Seferina Ortiz. She was the matriarch of a family of renowned potters, including Virgil Ortiz, Janice Ortiz, and Lisa Holt. This is one of the few “Chess Sets” she made during her career. There are 32 pieces. There are eight female “pawns” and eight male “pawns”. The rook is a horno oven, and the knight a sheep! The “bishop” is a medicine man and there are the central figures of the Queen and King. One side has figures that are more “black”, painted with bee-weed, and the other more “red”, highlighted with red clay slip. Each of the 32 pieces is handmade and painted with bee-weed (black) and red clay slips over a white Cochiti clay. They are all traditionally fired. Most, but not all the pieces are signed. There is an amazing amount of time involved to create a set like this so that they pieces capture the essence of a chess set and yet have a Pueblo tie! It is quite extraordinary. Each piece stands on its own. It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair. It is both unique and quite visually spectacular in person! I added the chessboard, which is made of wood. Virgil said that his mother, Seferina, made less than five chess sets during her career. It makes you wonder how many have survived over time???