Polychrome seed pot with a painted cloud and rain medallion in a band of painted geometric design made by Minnie Vigil of Santa Clara
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Minnie Vigil, Santa Clara, Polychrome seed pot with a painted cloud and rain medallion in a band of painted geometric design
Minnie Vigil
Santa Clara
$ 195
jtsc1j307
Polychrome seed pot with a painted cloud and rain medallion in a band of painted geometric design
3 in H by 3.75 in Dia
Condition: Very good
Signature: Minnie Santa Clara



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Maria Minnie Vigil

Santa Clara
Minnie Vigil of Santa Clara Pueblo created this polychrome jar with an avanyu and rain cloud design
 

The first child of Petra Montoya of Pojoaque and Juan Gutierrez of Santa Clara, Maria D. Minnie Vigil was born in 1931. The oldest sister of Gloria (Goldenrod) Garcia, Thelma Talachy and Lois Gutierrez de la Cruz, Minnie grew up learning the fundamentals of the traditional way of making pottery from their mother. She began making pottery for the marketplace in 1955 and won her first award at the Santa Fe Indian Market in 1975.

Minnie specialized in polychrome wares, some slipped in red clay and stone polished, some slipped in matte tan clay and not polished. Her favorite designs were rainbows, rain clouds, bear paws and sky bands.

Minnie typically signed her pieces as "Minnie, Santa Clara"



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

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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

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Seed Pots

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
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Pasqualita Tani Gutierrez 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.

Pasqualita Tani Gutierrez was the sister of Sarafina Tafoya.

    Pasqualita Tani Gutierrez (1883-) & Severiano Tafoya
    • Petra Montoya (Pojoaque)(1905-) & Juan Isidro Gutierrez (Santa Clara, 1901-1977)
      • Gloria Goldenrod Garcia & John Garcia
        • Jason Okuu Pin Garcia
      • Desiderio Star Gutierrez & Genevieve Tafoya
        • Debra Duwyenie & Preston Duwyenie (Hopi)
      • Lois Gutierrez (1948-) & Derek de la Cruz
        • Juan de la Cruz
      • Thelma (1946-) & Joe (1940-) Talachy (San Juan)
      • Maria Minnie Vigil (1931-)
        • Annette Vigil
    • Tomacita Gutierrez Tafoya (1896-1977) & Cruz Tafoya (1889-1938)
      • Cresencia Tafoya (1918-1999)
        • Annie Baca (1941-)
        • Pauline Martinez (1950-) & George Martinez (San Ildefonso) (1943-)
        • Harriet Tafoya (1949-) & Elmer Red Starr (Sioux) (1937-)
          • Ivan Red Starr (1969-1991)
          • Norman Red Star (nephew) (1955-)
    • Celestina Naranjo & Salvador Naranjo

Some of the above info is drawn from Pueblo Indian Pottery, 750 Artist Biographies, by Gregory Schaaf, © 2000, Center for Indigenous Arts & Studies

Other info is derived from personal contacts with family members and through interminable searches of the Internet.