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Nineteenth-Century Tesuque Rain God Figurine [R]


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Potter Unknown


Santa Fe was becoming a tourist destination in the 1880s.  The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway train made transportation to the town convenient.  The town was a Territory of the United States, not yet a state.  That fact, along with the rich heritage of the Indian cultures, the healthy climate, and the beauty of the region made Santa Fe an exotic vacation for Easterners.  Santa Fe merchants were eager to attend to the needs and desires of these travelers and it is in this realm that the Tesuque Rain God figurines were developed.


Rain God figurines did not have a tradition at Tesuque or any other pueblo but probably were the creation of the fertile minds of merchants in the town.  There was a demand for small pottery items that could retail for 25 cents or less that travelers could take with them in their luggage.  The predecessors to the Rain God holding a jar in its lap were similar figures without the pottery but with defined genetalia.  The jar was probably a solution to hiding genitalia so as not to offend potential purchasers.  A Tesuque Rain God with a jar in its lap was displayed in 1893 at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, an indication of their early manufacture.


This Rain God figurine is simple in execution as those of the nineteenth-century ones and is probably from the 1880s period.  There are flakes of mica visible in the clay.  Fingers and toes are not defined, a feature included in later ones.


Reference and Recommended Reading: When Rain Gods Reigned: From Curios to Art at Tesuque Pueblo by Duane Anderson.

Condition: very good condition

Provenance: this Nineteenth-Century Tesuque Rain God Figurine is from the collection of Dana Lipsig, the one who supplied us with a collection of 105 rain gods for our exhibit in 2005 (click here to view now).

Potter Unknown
C3618C-raingod.jpgC3618C-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.