Miniature polychrome wedding vase with bird element and geometric design
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Teresa Wildflower, Non-Pueblo, Miniature polychrome wedding vase with bird element and geometric design
Artist: Teresa Wildflower & 2017 Miniatures
Pueblo: Non-Pueblo
Dimensions: 3/4 in H by 3/4 in Dia
Item Number: lhmmm6783
Price: $ 275
Description: Miniature polychrome wedding vase with bird element and geometric design
Condition: Excellent
Signature: Hallmark

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Teresa Wildflower

Polychrome miniature lidded jar by Teresa Wildflower, Chemehuevi

Teresa Wildflower is a member of the Chemehuevi tribe, the southernmost grouping of the Southern Paiutes (the Southern Paiutes traditionally lived in the Colorado River basin and the Mohave Desert in northern Arizona and southeastern California, southern Nevada and southern Utah). She was born in 1935 and became probably the most recognized of Chemehuevi potters.

She most likely grew up on the Colorado River Indian Reservation near Parker, AZ. In those days Federal authorities were actively recruiting Native Americans from high desert tribes to migrate to other reservations and The Colorado River Reservations saw a number of incoming Hopi and Navajo families. Judging from the shapes she made, the kinds of designs she painted and the quality of her work, it's likely she learned to make pottery from one of her Hopi neighbors. There was a bit of a renaissance in Chemehuevi traditional arts beginning in the 1990's with the advent of tribal casinos but Teresa was well established long before that: we found records of a two-week show of her work at Andrews Pueblo Pottery in Albuquerque in the summer of 1982.

Teresa's specialty was miniatures and she was prolific in making them. Because the Chemehuevi pottery tradition was almost wiped out a century before (and the examples available in museum collections look very Hohokam-influenced), it's hard to see anything in her pottery that makes it specifically Chemehuevi. However, her work is light-hearted and reflects a way of looking at nature that is simple, direct and exquisitely to the point. Her pieces are very well made and meticulously painted. Her subject matter is all over the place, from penguins to tropical birds to frogs, lizards, bears and coyotes. Her creations are exacting, built to a scale where 1" is equal to 1'. It's easy enough to confuse her work with Hopi, Zuni or Cochiti pieces as she created with styles and shapes and painted designs from all across the Southwest Native American pottery world.

Teresa isn't producing her pottery any more but she did teach her daughter, Niadi, her methods and processes. Niadi produced similarly beautiful pottery for a few years but she hasn't made any in years now either.

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The Story of
the Wedding Vase

as told by Teresita Naranjo of Santa Clara Pueblo

The Wedding Vase has been used for a long, long time in Indian Wedding Ceremonies.

After a period of courtship, when a boy and girl decide to get married, they cannot do so until certain customs have been observed. The boy must first call all his relatives together to tell them that he desires to be married to a certain girl. If the relatives agree, two or three of the oldest men are chosen to call on the parents of the girl. They pray according to Indian custom and the oldest man will tell the parents of the girl what their purpose is in visiting. The girl’s parents never give a definite answer at this time, but just say that they will let the boy’s family know their decision later.

About a week later, the girl calls a meeting of her relatives. The family then decides what answer should be given. If the answer is “no” that is the end of it. If the answer is “yes” then the oldest men in her family are delegated to go to the boy’s home, and to give the answer, and to tell the boy on what day he can come to receive his bride-to-be. The boy must also notify all of his relatives on what day the girl will receive him, so that they will be able to have gifts for the girl.

Now the boy must find a Godmother and Godfather. The Godmother immediately starts making the wedding vase so that it will be finished by the time the girl is to be received. The Godmother also takes some of the stones which have been designated as holy and dips them into water, to make it holy water. It is with this holy water that the vase is filled on the day of the reception.

The reception day finally comes and the Godmother and Godfather lead the procession of the boy’s relatives to the home of the girl. The groom is the last in line and must stand at the door of the bride’s home until the gifts his relatives have brought have been opened and received by the bride.

The bride and groom now kneel in the middle of the room with the groom’s relatives and the bride’s parents praying all around them. The bride then gives her squash blossom necklace to the groom’s oldest male relative, while the groom gives his necklace to the bride’s oldest male relative. After each man has prayed, the groom’s necklace is placed on the bride, and the bride’s is likewise placed on the groom.

After the exchange of squash blossom necklaces and prayers, the Godmother places the wedding vase in front of the bride and groom. The bride drinks out of one side of the wedding vase and the groom drinks from the other. Then, the vase is passed to all in the room, with the women all drinking from the bride’s side, and the men from the groom’s.

After the ritual drinking of the holy water and the prayers, the bride’s family feeds all the groom’s relatives and a date is set for the church wedding. The wedding vase is now put aside until after the church wedding.

Once the church wedding ceremony has occurred, the wedding vase is filled with any drink the family may wish. Once again, all the family drinks in the traditional manner, with women drinking from one side, and men the other. Having served its ceremonial purpose, the wedding vase is given to the young newlyweds as a good luck piece.

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Pottery Care & Consideration

  • The most obvious tip: Yes, the pots will break if you drop them!
  • Do not expose pottery to water (Inside or outside). Do not wipe with a damp cloth.
  • Dust pottery only with a soft, smooth cloth (no terry cloth or textured fabric). A very soft paintbrush (sable or camel) can be used.
  • Always use two hands to carry your pot: one on top and one on the bottom, or one hand on each side. Be careful with handles, they can be fragile. Do not grip or lift pots by the rim. Take care when wearing jewelry, rings can scratch the finish.
  • Place a piece of felt or cloth between the pot and the shelf to protect the signature.
  • Avoid exposing pottery to extreme temperature changes.

For those who live in "earthquake country" (also good for mischievous pets):

  • Weigh pots down with a small zip lock bag containing sand, glass marbles, rice, etc. Do not fill the pot more than one third full as you want them bottom heavy. Remember to remove the weight before moving.
  • Secure your shelves; make sure they are well attached to the walls. Shelf brackets should be of sufficient length and strength to support the weight of your pottery.
  • Prevent pots from sliding. Consider attaching a small wooden molding to the front of shelves. Line shelves with non-slip material (a thin sheet of rubber foam, Styrofoam sheeting, etc.)
  • If you need assistance with special problems, major cleaning (your grandchild spills ice cream on your pot), restoration or repair (the cat breaks a pot), or replacement (irreparable damage), please feel free to call us.

We hope these ideas help you maintain the beauty and value of your pottery for years of enjoyment.

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