Tafoya, Margaret – Large Rainbow Ridge Water Jar with Bear Paws (1960’s), BOF p. 78

13.5"w x 13.5"h

$ 24,000.00

This is a striking large water jar by Margaret Tafoya.   This red water jar is featured on p. 78 of the book, “Born of Fire”. The water jar is from the 1960’s and certainly from a period when Margaret was at the peak of her career.  In 1978 and 1979 she won “Best of Show” at Santa Fe Indian Market.  She is one of the only artists to ever win twice and then to win in two consecutive years.  This water jar is distinctive and important because of the color (she made fewer red pieces than black), the very classic shape and the bottom.   The shape is a double shoulder water jar with a rainbow ridge.  This is the ridge above the shoulder which is actually pushed out in the clay.  The rim of the jar is slightly turned out and there are four bear paws impressed into the clay before it was polished.  As for the bottom, this comes from a time period when she used one of her mother’s (SaraFina Tafoya) pukis to create the indented base.  Nearly of the pieces with this style of base are classic style water jars, almost as if they are made as an homage to her mother and her legacy.  The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay, “Margaret Tafoya”. It is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair.  This is definitely a historically important and exceptional jar by this important Santa Clara potter and great to have it published in one of the definitive books on her career.  Toni Roller said of the bear paw design.

“The story behind the bear paw, according to my grandmother, she said that our ancestors came from Puye, from the cliffs. One time when the people were living up there, there was a drought so bad they couldn’t grow anything. They were so worried. They wondered why the bear was well fed and not thin like they are. So they tracked the bear, and the bear led them to the Rio Grande. The reason we put the bear paw on the pots is to honor the bear that saved the people, the ancestors that came to Santa Clara from Puye. That’s why now most of the Indian people live along the Rio Grande. The bear saved all our ancestors.”  Toni Roller, Spoken Through Clay