Red seed pot with sgraffito bird, branch and flower design
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Mae Tapia, Santa Clara, Red seed pot with sgraffito bird, branch and flower design
Artist: Mae Tapia
Pueblo: Santa Clara
Dimensions: 2 1/4 in H by 2 1/2 in Dia
Item Number: ldscg9023
Price: $ 375
Description: Red seed pot with sgraffito bird, branch and flower design
Condition: Excellent
Signature: Mae Tapia Santa Clara

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Mae Tapia


Santa Clara
Mae Tapia
Sienna spots and sgraffito designs on a black seedpot
 

Mae Tapia was born to Joe and Santanita Suazo of Santa Clara Pueblo in 1952. She learned the traditional art of pottery making from her mother while growing up. She's been making pottery since she was 19 years old. Other potters in her family include sisters Candelaria Suazo, Margie Naranjo and Shirley Duran, her mother-in-law Belen Tapia, and her two children, Ira Tapia and April Tapia.

Mae has participated in the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show and the SWAIA Santa Fe Indian Market and she has won 1st Place ribbons from both.

Her favorite shape is the seed pot and her favorite designs are based on ancient Mimbres designs. She tells us she gets her inspiration from her mother, her mother-in-law and from Martha Haungooah. She also says she has no plans when she puts her hands to the clay, she just lets the clay decide what she's going to make and it guides her every step of the way.


 

Santa Clara Pueblo

The Puye Cliff Ruins
Ruins at Puye Cliffs, Santa Clara Pueblo

Santa Clara Pueblo straddles the Rio Grande about 25 miles north of Santa Fe. Of all the pueblos, Santa Clara has the largest number of potters.

The ancestral roots of the Santa Clara people have been traced to the pueblos in the Mesa Verde region in southwestern Colorado. When that area began to get dry between about 1100 and 1300, some of the people migrated to the Chama River Valley and constructed Poshuouinge (about 3 miles south of what is now Abiquiu on the edge of the mesa above the Chama River). Eventually reaching two and three stories high with up to 700 rooms on the ground floor, Poshuouinge was inhabited from about 1375 to about 1475. Drought then again forced the people to move, some of them going to the area of Puye (on the eastern slopes of the Pajarito Plateau of the Jemez Mountains) and others to Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo, along the Rio Grande). Beginning around 1580, drought forced the residents of the Puye area to relocate closer to the Rio Grande and they founded what we now know as Santa Clara Pueblo on the west bank of the river, between San Juan and San Ildefonso Pueblos.

In 1598 Spanish colonists from nearby Yunque (the seat of Spanish government near San Juan Pueblo) brought the first missionaries to Santa Clara. That led to the first mission church being built around 1622. However, the Santa Clarans chafed under the weight of Spanish rule like the other pueblos did and were in the forefront of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. One pueblo resident, a mixed black and Tewa man named Domingo Naranjo, was one of the rebellion's ringleaders. When Don Diego de Vargas came back to the area in 1694, he found most of the Santa Clarans on top of nearby Black Mesa (with the people of San Ildefonso). An extended siege didn't subdue them so eventually, the two sides negotiated a treaty and the people returned to their pueblo. However, successive invasions and occupations by northern Europeans took their toll on the tribe over the next 250 years. The Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 almost wiped them out.

Today, Santa Clara Pueblo is home to as many as 2,600 people and they comprise probably the largest per capita number of artists of any North American tribe (estimates of the number of potters run as high as 1-in-4 residents).

Today's pottery from Santa Clara is typically either black or red. It is usually highly polished and designs might be deeply carved or etched ("sgraffito") into the pot's surface. The water serpent, ("avanyu"), is a traditional design motif of Santa Clara pottery. Another motif comes from the legend that a bear helped the people find water during a drought. The bear paw has appeared on their pottery ever since.

One of the reasons for the distinction this pueblo has received is because of the evolving artistry the potters have brought to the craft. Not only did this pueblo produce excellent black and redware, several notable innovations helped move pottery from the realm of utilitarian vessels into the domain of art. Different styles of polychrome redware emerged in the 1920's-1930's. In the early 1960's experiments with stone inlay, incising and double firing began. Modern potters have also extended the tradition with unusual shapes, slips and designs, illustrating what one Santa Clara potter said: "At Santa Clara, being non-traditional is the tradition." (This refers strictly to artistic expression; the method of creating pottery remains traditional).

Santa Clara Pueblo is home to a number of famous pottery families: Tafoya, Baca, Gutierrez, Naranjo, Suazo, Chavarria, Garcia, Vigil, Tapia - to name a few.

Harvest, Santa Clara Pueblo c. 1912
Courtesy Museum of New Mexico Neg. No. 4128

Santa Clara Pueblo c. 1920
Courtesy Museum of New Mexico Neg. No. 4214
Santa Clara Pueblo location map

For more info:
at Wikipedia
Pueblos of the Rio Grande, Daniel Gibson, ISBN-13:978-1-887896-26-9, Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2001
Upper photo courtesy of Einar Kvaran, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License



100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234
www.andreafisherpottery.com
All Rights Reserved

Seed Pots

Pueblos: Acoma, Hopi, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Santa Clara
Seed pot jar

Sandra Victorino
Acoma Pueblo
Micaceous black Hopi seed pot

Preston Duwyenie
Hopi
Santa Clara Pueblo seed pot

Camilio Tafoya
Santa Clara Pueblo
 

It was a matter of survival to the ancient Native American people that seeds be stored properly until the next planting season. Small, hollow pots were made to ensure that the precious seeds would be kept safe from moisture, light and rodents. After seeds were put into the pot, the small hole in the pot was plugged. The following spring the plug was removed and the seeds were shaken from the pot directly onto the planting area.

Today, seed pots are no longer necessary due to readily available seeds from commercial suppliers. However, seed pots continue to be made as beautiful, decorative works of art. The sizes and shapes of seed pots have evolved and vary greatly, depending on the vision of Clay Mother as seen through the artist. The decorations vary, too, from simple white seed pots with raised relief to multi-colored painted, raised relief and sgraffito designs, sometimes with inlaid gemstones and silver lids.

 
Seed pot with sgraffito design and silver lid

Debra Duwyenie
Santa Clara Pueblo
Jemez Pueblo seed pot

Dominique Toya
Jemez Pueblo
Acoma Pueblo seed pot

Lucy Lewis
Acoma Pueblo

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234
www.andreafisherpottery.com
All Rights Reserved


 

Belen Tapia 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.


    Belen Tapia & Ernest Tapia
    Their descendants who became potters:
    • Leonard Tapia & Romancita Gutierrez
    • Anita L. Suazo & Joseph Suazo
    • Paul Tapia
    • Frank Tapia & Mae Tapia
    • Bennie Tapia & Gail Gutierrez
    • Anna Archuleta & Fidel Archuleta


100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234
www.andreafisherpottery.com
All Rights Reserved