Carved Redware Seed Pot with Figures and Corn by Camilio Tafoya


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Camilio Sunflower Tafoya, Santa Clara Pueblo Artist

The Artistry of Camilo Sunflower Tafoya: A Study of the Redware Seed Pot

The redware seed pot, a testament to the artistic prowess of Camilo Sunflower Tafoya, hails from the Santa Clara Pueblo. Tafoya, a potter of remarkable versatility, was known for his work in the traditional carved blackware style, a technique that his mother, Sara Fina, and sister, Margaret, had mastered and brought into the limelight. However, with this particular piece, Tafoya diverged from his family's tradition and ventured into the realm of sgraffito, a style that seemed to captivate his artistic interest.

This seed pot, though small in size, is rich in detail and symbolism. Its round shape, interrupted only by a flat base, is typical of the form. The pot's sides are adorned with two carved circles, within which figures are etched in relief. These figures, supporting themselves with tall staffs and carrying large parcels on their backs, are presumed to be farmers returning home after a day of toil, bearing the fruits of their labor.

Between these circular elements, tall corn designs emerge, extending from the base to a small aperture near the top of the pot. This intricate detailing not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of the piece but also pays homage to the agricultural heritage of the Santa Clara Pueblo. Thus, through his art, Tafoya weaves a narrative of his culture, making each piece a window into the world he belonged to.

Artist signature of Camilio Sunflower Tafoya, Santa Clara PuebloThe bottom of the jar is signed, dated, and numbered Camilio Sunflower Tafoya, Santa Clara Pueblo, 1975, 88A.

Santa Clara Pueblo artist Camilio Sunflower Tafoya (1902-1995) made traditional black carved pottery in the mid-twentieth century. After his son Joseph Lonewolf popularized the intricate sgraffito carving style, Camilio picked it up too. Camilio also made tall pottery jars. Initially, he and his daughter Grace Medicine Flower worked together and co-signed pieces. Later, he worked alone. Camilio was the son of Sara Fina and Geronimo Tafoya, and brother of Margaret Tafoya, which places him within one of the most significant families in the world of Native art.

Condition: excellent condition

Provenance: this Carved Redware Seed Pot with Figures and Corn is from the collection of Bob & Louise Sluder, dealers/collectors active from 1955 to 1990

Reference and Recommended Reading: The Pottery Jewels of Joseph Lonewolf by Jon Young. 1975 Dandick Publications

TAGS: Santa Clara PuebloSara Fina TafoyaMargaret Tafoya, Joseph LonewolfGrace Medicine FlowerCamilio Sunflower Tafoya

Alternate view of this seed jar showing the corn.

Camilio Sunflower Tafoya, Santa Clara Pueblo Artist
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