Roller, Jeff – Bowl with Carved Avanyu (2020)
This is traditional carved bowl by Jeff Roller. Jeff is a son of Toni Roller and a grandson of Margaret Tafoya. He continues a family legacy of extraordinary traditional pottery. This bowl is coil built, stone polished and traditionally fired black. The bowl is carved with a water serpent or “avanyu” encircling the piece. Why the avanyu?
The water serpent, we were told, it represents life. It represents the water, which is important to life, to people, plants, and animals. The water design is very important to put on pots to honor that serpent. We used to ask, “What is the water serpent?” We were told the water serpent is in the rivers, the big rivers. At one time, when my mother was young, there were no bridges to cross over the Rio Grande. They were always told that if you see a water serpent, your life is going to be long. She did see one laying on the rock. She said it was huge, snakelike, and she said she just stared at it and couldn’t holler for anyone else to see. If you look at the serpent design, it has all the weather designs. The lightning on the tongue of the serpent, and there are mountain designs and rain designs and all the weather elements. .” Toni Roller, Spoken Through Clay
The simple elegance of the form and design ties the piece to the classic styles of Santa Clara Pueblo. The bowl is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Jeff Roller” and dated 2020.