Cochiti Pueblo Pottery Storyteller with 9 Children


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Helen Cordero, Cochiti Pueblo Potter
  • Category: Figurines
  • Origin: Cochiti Pueblo
  • Medium: clay, pigment
  • Size: 10” height
  • Item # 26028
  • Price: $11,950.00

Photo of Helen Cordero.  Reference: Southern Pueblo Pottery: 2,000 Artist Biographies by Gregory Schaaf.What is known today as a Storyteller figurine had its beginning in 1964 from the hands of Cochiti Pueblo potter Helen Cordero.  Alexander Girard, the noted architect and folk-art collector, saw a figurine by Cordero at a Santo Domingo feast day arts and crafts booth and requested that she make more and larger ones and bring them to him.  He continued to encourage her to make larger figurines.  When Cordero began thinking about his requests, she made a male figurine with a child in his lap. That was in 1964.  After Girard purchased that one, he suggested she make a larger one with more children.  Helen recalled that her grandfather was a storyteller at the pueblo.  Based on those memories, she began creating male figurines with many children.  These creations, based on her grandfather, was the beginning of the storyteller figurine tradition at Cochiti Pueblo.  In the five decades since her creation, the storyteller figurine tradition has blossomed.

Today, many potters at almost all the pueblos make figurines, some male and some female, but Cordero continued only making male storytellers because of the connection to her grandfather.  She never made a female storyteller. Her female figurines are called Singing Mother, Hopi Maiden or other names. Cordero used to say that the other potters, who made female storyteller figurines, didn't understand her intent.

This figurine is a testament to Cordero’s talent. It was beautifully sculpted and painted. Two of the children have their hands over their eyes as if the story being told is scary. Other children are hanging on to each other as if afraid of falling off the back of the adult.  Two children sit on his legs and two others cling to his moccasins.

The adult is wearing a button up shirt with collar and a turquoise nugget necklace that was very popular in the 19th century. He is dressed simply in the old traditional pueblo cotton clothing and brown moccasins.  The children seem to all be dressed as boys.

Helen Cordero (1915–1994) signature

The figurine has a marvelous patina that fits with its age. It dates to the early 1970s, a period accepted as Cordero’s best. It is signed Helen Cordero Cochiti, N. M.  This is one of the finest looking and one of the largest Cordero storyteller figurines of this period that we have had. It is truly a marvelous piece.

Condition: very good condition. a chip off the nose of the adult has been professionally repaired

Provenance: this Cochiti Pueblo Pottery Storyteller with 9 Children is from the collection of a gentleman from Las Vegas, Nevada

Recommended Reading:  The Pueblo Storyteller: Development of a Figurative Ceramic Tradition by Barbara Babcock

Photo (Right) Reference: Southern Pueblo Pottery: 2,000 Artist Biographies by Gregory Schaaf.