Quotskuyva, Dextra – Large Longhair and Hemis Mana Katsina Jar (1982)
This is a very unusual jar by Dextra Quostkuyva Nampeyo. She was certainly one of the most influential Hopi-Tewa potters of the last 50 years. Not only did she teach numerous potters (Steve Lucas, Yvonne Lucas, Les Namingha, Loren Ami, and Hisi Nampeyo, to name just a few), but her creative designs and forms have dramatically influenced the pottery itself. The piece is from 1982. It has a round shoulder and a slightly turned-out rim. There are four Longhair Katsinas on one side and four Hemis Mana Katsinas on the opposite side. The Longhair Katsina wears a traditional Hopi hairstyle utilized by men. The purpose of the Longhair Katsinam is to provide rain to the Hopi villages. They arrive in the villages in groups, often accompanied by Yellow or White Corn Maidens. They sing beautiful melodies for all, carrying optimistic themes and messages encouraging living life to its fullest. A true beacon of positivity. The Hemis Mana Katsina brings a time for intense prayer for late summer rains which will help produce a plentiful crop.
The jar is matte while the figures are painted with bee-weed (black) and polished red and white areas. There is a delicate nature to the lines representing rain above the katsinas. As well, even the small feathers on the longhair katinas are polished white! She also added a turquoise blue clay coloration for the earrings on all the figures. On the bottom, there are eight ears of corn. They are polished red and white and the natural clay color. They are meant to represent the four directions. It’s a great surprise when you turn the jar over! This piece has an amazing amount of design work and creativity. It was made in 1982. The piece was traditionally fired to create the blushes on the surface. In the early 1980s, Dextra was innovative with texture, carving, and materials. Think of the time period in 1980, when most Hopi potters were creating a very classic range of designs, and how wild this must have appeared! There is a creative drive to the piece, much like in that of her ancestor Nampeyo of Hano. This jar is signed on the bottom, “Dextra” and an ear of corn for Corn Clan. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair. Definitely a classic of her creative clay art!
Dextra said of her early pottery:
“I was watching my mom (Rachel Nampeyo) all the time, and I was picking up everything she was doing. I found my own polishing stones. I would collect clays. My mother didn’t like it when I did different types of designs. She was different in her ideas. My mother, she went so far as to say that whatever our great-grandmother had reproduced from old designs—those were important designs. We’re supposed to have the basics, she’d say. The big six. Don’t part from that. The six traditional designs. One of them is the migration design, the eagle feather design, the hummingbird design, the horned lizard, the moth design, and parrots. Those are the ones that started with Lesso and Nampeyo. The designs are mainly from Sikyatki people—it was their pottery that was dug out when they were excavating. They were beautiful designs they had used quite a bit.” Dextra Quotskuyva, Spoken Through Clay