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Micaceous Rain God Figurine from Tesuque Pueblo

C3618D-rain-god.jpg

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Ignacia Duran (1921 - 2011)

Ignacia Duran (1921 - 2011) signature“Ignacia was among the potters who made the famous Tesuque Muna.  ‘Anastasia Romero Vigil was one of the first to make [Muna] Rain Gods.  [By the 1920s and 30s] everyone use to make Muna.  We made hundreds every week.  The traders use to come every Friday’ [to buy the Muna and other pottery].”  Ignacia Duran in Schaaf 2000; 260

 

The origin of Tesuque Rain God figurines is still somewhat in question. They may be an indigenous development out of a more general Tewa tradition. Before the emergence of the figurine as we know it today, there existed figurines closely related to Kokopelli, the humpbacked, phallic flute player. These early figurines displayed sexual characteristics of male and female genders. A strong similarity exists between these ancestral Rain God figurines and the late 19th-century ones. The sexual characteristics disappeared rapidly once the figurines became commercial products.

 

Their entry into the commercial realm was due to a Santa Fe merchant named Jake Gold and possibly a Chicago, IL Candy Company called Gunther Candy. It has been stated for decades that Gunther offered to buy "Indian relics" to put in its boxes of candy, however this has not been confirmed.

 

Gold offered Tesuque Pueblo potters 10 cents for each figurine (and most-likely retailed them for 25 cents). The potters removed the sexual characteristics from the dolls (probably at the request of Gold) and placed a pot in the lap or on the head. Thus we have the Tesuque Rain God figurine, as we know it today.

 

Condition: original condition

Provenance: from the recent collection of Dana Lipsig Scarpitta who provided the collection of rain gods for our 2005 exhibit.  To see this exhibit agin, just click here.

Recommended ReadingWhen Rain Gods Reigned: From Curios to Art at Tesuque Pueblo by Duane Anderson.  This book is currently not available from Adobe Gallery

Reference:  Pueblo Indian Pottery 750 Artist Biographies by Gregory Schaaf.  This book is currently not available from Adobe Gallery

Ignacia Duran (1921 - 2011).  Image copyright Adobe Gallery.

Ignacia Duran (1921 - 2011)
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