Tafoya, Margaret – Red Rainbow Ridge Water Jar with Bear Paws (1980s)

6"w x 6.5"h

$ 4,400.00

This is a not often we come across such an exceptional smaller water jar by Margaret Tafoya.   This red water jar is from the 1980s. It is coil built and fully polished.  The jar has a double shoulder or “rainbow ridge”.  This is the ridge above the shoulder which is actually pushed out in the clay.  The story of the rainbow ridge is below:

“Sarafina was inspired by the legends of Santa Clara Pueblo, which were incorporated into her pottery. On the shoulder of her water jars, a second raised section or ‘double shoulder’ created a ‘rainbow band.’ This band was a prayer to keep the water from evaporating from the jar.” —CHARLES S. KING, 2008, Born of Fire: The Life and Pottery of Margaret Tafoya

Around the neck of the jar are four bear paws.  They were carved into the clay before it was fired.  Each potter had their own distinctive style of bear paw.  The jar was traditionally fired red.  Margaret always made fewer red pieces than black, which adds to their scarcity.  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 classic and exceptional jar by this important Santa Clara potter.

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