Santa Clara Pottery Black Wedding Vessel with Bear Paws by Margaret Tafoya

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Margaret Tafoya, Santa Clara Pueblo Potter

This is a monumental polished blackware pottery wedding vase by Santa Clara Pueblo artist and matriarch Margaret Tafoya. This magnificent early piece was coil-formed in native clays with stone-polished slip and reduction fired to achieve the famed Santa Clara black finish. This plainware work features a singular design motif, the carved black bear paw at upper shoulder; a single paw at front and rear, centrally located between the adjacent spouts. It is a family hallmark water symbol that also implies that a bear will always lead you to water. 

 With a globular body, the vessel expands upward to twin spouts connected at the extremities by a clay arch.  The vessel has a superb polish, form, and powerful visual presence, representing the finest in large-scale Margaret Tafoya works, measuring over 15 inches tall. The vessel is signed on the base Margaret Tafoya

This is a pottery vessel for the collector of the finest in the oeuvre of Margaret Tafoya, an undeniably powerful work by one of the premier Pueblo potters of the twentieth century. 

Teresita Naranjo relayed to author Betty LeFree the following explanation of the wedding vase:

“After a period of courtship, a boy and girl decide to get married, but they cannot do so until certain customs have been observed.  The boy must first call all his relatives together to tell them that he desires to be married to a certain girl.  If the relatives agree, two or three of the oldest men are chosen to call on the parents of the girl.  Here they pray according to Indian custom and then the oldest man will tell the parents of the girl what their mission is.  The parents never give a definite answer at this time—they just say they will let the boy’s family know their decision.... Read more on our Blog

Condition: this Santa Clara Pottery Black Wedding Vessel with Bear Paws by Margaret Tafoya is in excellent condition

Provenance: sold to a client from Santa Fe from whom we now have it back to sell

ReferenceSanta Clara Pottery Today by Betty LeFree

Relative Links: Santa Clara PuebloSara Fina Gutierrez Tafoya, Virginia EbelackerMela YoungbloodToni RollerLuAnn Tafoya, Margaret TafoyaTeresita Naranjo

This plainware work features a singular design motif, the carved black bear paw at upper shoulder; a single paw at front and rear, centrally located between the adjacent spouts.  It is a family hallmark water symbol that also implies that a bear will always lead you to water.