Santa clara pottery

DEFINITION

Pottery whose signature mark is the bear's paw and that is made by Pueblo Indians of Santa Clara, New Mexico. Polished blackware and polished redware are the two most common types known commercially. They date back to about 1879 when examples were collected by representatives of the Smithsonian Institution. Demands for ceramics as collectibles rather than practical items led to a growing commercial market and to modifications such as pots which no longer hold water and aesthetic carved decoration. Carved designs first appeared in 1920, pioneered by Sefarina Tafoya, one of the most famous of the Santa Clara potters along with her daughter Margaret Tafoya. The blackware was smothered in dung before firing, causing the carbon in the smoke to be absorbed by the clay. The bear's paw, a unique Santa Clara design, commemorates the bear who, according to Santa Clara legend, led the Indians to water in time of drouth.Source:Native American Art of the Southwest by Linda Eaton

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