Youngblood, Mela – Rainbow Ridge Water Jar with Bear Paws & Ribbons (1980)
WOW! This is a striking classic water jar by Mela Youngblood. She was a daughter of Margaret Tafoya and began making pottery in the late 1960s. She quickly achieved a distinctive style for her work. Each piece of her work was very highly polished and when carved the edges are distinctly rounded. This is a larger double shoulder water jar. The jar has a double shoulder or “rainbow ridge”. It has been said of the rainbow ridge:
“Sarafina was inspired by the myths and 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
This jar has three bear paws impressed into the clay and polished. The bear paws are symbolic of a bear that led the Pueblo people to water during a drought. The polished surface is striking on the jar and it is fired a deep black. It is signed “Mela Youngblood” in the clay on the bottom and dated 3/13/80. The jar is in excellent condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair. There are two ribbons from the 1980 Gallup Ceremonials. One is a blue ribbon and the other is “Best of Class” for Traditional Pottery. Interestingly, one of the judges was Mary Ellen Blair, who wrote, “Margaret Tafoya: A Potter’s Heritage and Legacy”.