Black plate 1st prize from Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial Last month
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Rose Gonzales, San Ildefonso, Black plate 1st prize from Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial Last month
Artist: Rose Gonzales
Pueblo: San Ildefonso
Dimensions: 1 1/2 in H by 11 3/4 in Dia
Item Number: efsif8155
Price: $ 2500
Description: Black plate 1st prize from Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial Last month
Condition: Excellent
Signature: Rose
Date Created: 1963
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Rose Gonzales

San Ildefonso
Geometric design carved into a black jar

Rose Gonzales was born into San Juan Pueblo in 1900. She and her sister, Pomasena, were educated at the Santa Fe Indian School and stayed there after their parents died during the swine flu epidemic of 1918. Mary Cata, an elderly female relative, adopted them and returned them to San Juan in 1919. In 1920 Rose married Robert Gonzales and the two sisters moved to Robert's home at San Ildefonso. Robert's mother, Ramona Sanchez Gonzales, taught Rose to make pottery the traditional San Ildefonso way. Years later, Rose passed her knowledge on when she taught her son Tse-Pé, his wife Dora and their daughter Irene the traditional way to make pots.

The early 1920's were an exciting time to be learning to make pottery at San Ildefonso. First Rose learned to make polished blackware, then she learned the new black-on-black technique and the older black-on-red technique. About 1929 Rose began "earnestly making pottery." She slowly perfected her polish, refining her technique on both blackware and redware. Coming as she did from San Juan Pueblo, Rose made especially fine redware.

Rose said it was around 1930 that her husband was out deer hunting and came across an ancient carved pot shard. He brought it home and she studied it, trying to work out how it had been made before carving her first piece. In her words: "I fired it and it came out nice and I started carving." For that reason she is credited as being the innovator of deep carved pottery at San Ildefonso.

Rose used a sharp knife and chisel to carve her pots. After a while she began sanding the edges to create a "cameo" style. She made pots with both square and rounded edges on her carved lines. While she was always selling her pots Rose was also feeding up to eleven people at her kitchen table. During the 1930's and 40's she traded many of her pots for food. When she got older, she sometimes collaborated with her son, Tse-Pé, especially when she was working with two-tone pots.

Rose mostly made black, red and two-tone jars, bowls, wedding vases, cylinders, vases, canteens, plates and bird effigy bowls. Her favorite designs were carved or painted birds, clouds, avanyus, kiva steps, thunderbirds and seeds uncurling. Rose participated many times in shows like the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market, Eight Northern Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show, the Gallup Intertribal Ceremonial and the New Mexico State Fair, earning numerous 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place ribbons over the years. Rose passed away in 1989.

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San Ildefonso Pueblo

Sacred Black Mesa
Black Mesa at San Ildefonso Pueblo

San Ildefonso Pueblo is located about twenty miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico, mostly on the eastern bank of the Rio Grande. Although their ancestry has been traced as far back as abandoned pueblos in the Mesa Verde area in southwestern Colorado, the most recent ancestral home of the people of San Ildefonso is in the area of Bandelier National Monument, the prehistoric villages of Tyuonyi, Otowi, Navawi and Tsankawi specifically. The area of Tsankawi abuts the reservation on its northwest side.

The San Ildefonso name was given to the village in 1617 when a mission church was established. Before then the village was called Powhoge, "where the water cuts through" (in Tewa). Today's pueblo was established as long ago as the 1300's and when the Spanish arrived in 1540 they estimated the village population at about 2,000.

That village mission was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and when Don Diego de Vargas returned to reclaim the San Ildefonso area in 1694, he found virtually the entire tribe on top of nearby Black Mesa. After an extended siege the two sides negotiated a treaty and the people returned to their village. However, the next 250 years were not good for them. Finally, the Spanish swine flu pandemic of 1918 reduced the tribe's population to about 90. The tribe's population has increased to more than 600 today but the only economic activity available for most on the pueblo involves the creation of art in one form or another. The only other jobs are off-pueblo. San Ildefonso's population is small compared to neighboring Santa Clara Pueblo, but the pueblo maintains its own religious traditions and ceremonial feast days.

San Ildefonso has produced fine ceramic art since early pre-Columbian times. The pueblo is most known for being the home of the most famous Pueblo Indian potter, Maria Martinez. Many other excellent potters have produced quality pottery from this pueblo, too, among them: Blue Corn, Tonita and Juan Roybal, Dora Tse Pe and Rose Gonzales. Of course the descendants of Maria Martinez are still important pillars of San Ildefonso's pottery tradition. Maria's influence reached far and wide, so far and wide that even Juan Quezada, founder of the Mata Ortiz pottery renaissance in Chihuahua, Mexico, came to San Ildefonso to learn from her.

San Ildefonso Pueblo location map

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Gonzales Family Tree

Disclaimer: This "family tree" is a best effort on our part to determine who the potters are in this family and arrange them in a generational order. The general information available is questionable so we have tried to show each of these diagrams to living members of each family to get their input and approval, too. This diagram is subject to change should we get better info.

    Ramona Sanchez Gonzales (1885-?)
  • Rose Gonzales (1900-1989) & Robert Gonzales
    Their descendants who became potters:
    • Tse-Pe (1940-2000) & Dora Tse-Pe (Gachupin, first wife, Zia, b. 1939)
      Their descendants who became potters:
      • Jennifer Tse-Pe (1960-1977)
      • Irene Tse-Pe (b. 1961)
      • Gerri Tse-Pe (b. 1963)
      • Candace Tse-Pe (b. 1968)
    • Tse-Pe (1940-2000) & Jennifer Tse-Pe (second wife, Santa Clara)

  • Oqwa Pi (Abel Sanchez)(1899-1971) & Tomasena Cata Sanchez (1903-1985, Rose Gonzales sister)
    Their descendants who became potters:
      Skipped generation
      • Russell Sanchez (b. 1966)
  • Juanita Gonzales (1909-1988) & Louis "Wo-Peen" Gonzales (brother of Rose Gonzales husband)
    (Juanita Wo-Peen learned from Rose Gonzales)
    Their descendants who became potters:
    • Adelphia Martinez

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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