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Cochiti Pueblo 17-piece Pottery Nacimiento, 1972

25522-nativity.jpg

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Helen Cordero (1915–1994)

Helen Cordero image - Reference: Southern Pueblo Pottery: 2,000 Artist Biographies by Gregory Schaaf.In 1970, the Heard Museum of Phoenix, which already had many of Cordero’s figurines in its collection, asked her to do something different.  She recalls that she thought of doing a Noah’s Ark, then thought of the Nativity.  She decided to make it in the Indian style.  She made a set, entered it in the Heard’s Annual Indian Arts and Crafts Exhibit where it won the Best of Show Award.  That December it was featured in the museum’s folk art exhibit and has been exhibited every Christmas since.

In 1972, Helen Cordero made this 17-piece nacimiento for a friend in Albuquerque.  The addition of children and puppies to the scene is a Helen Cordero trademark.  Her cattle always bear the Cochiti brand.  Her people have their eyes closed and mouths open as in all her other figurine pottery.  Helen said she made nacimientos the way it is traditional at Cochiti—the clothes they wear, the gifts they bring, and the animals of the pueblo.  She never used sheep because there are none at Cochiti.

Baby Jesus is swaddled in a traditional wood cradleboard on goat hair.  The hair has since disintegrated but everything else is the same.  The bowl of bread being carried by one female has been replaced by a bowl of turquoise nuggets.  The small dog and bird were not part of the original set and may not have been made by Cordero, but they are included now.

 

Condition: except for the goat hair, it is in original condition

Provenance: from the collection of the original purchaser in 1972.  

Recommended Reading (this set was published 3 times):

Nacimientos: Nativity Scenes by Southwest Indian Artisans by Guy and Doris Monthan.  This nativity set is featured on page 28 of this book (see second detail image).

Nativities of the Southwest by Susan Topp Webber.  This nativity set is featured on page 23 of this book (see below).

This set was also featured in the book Art and Indian Individualists, 1975.

Helen Cordero image - Reference: Southern Pueblo Pottery: 2,000 Artist Biographies by Gregory Schaaf.

This nativity set is featured in the new book by Susan Topp Weber, page 23: Nativities of the Southwest.

Helen Cordero (1915–1994)
25522-nativity.jpg25522-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.