Tesuque Pueblo Historic Pictorial Scoop


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Pueblo Potter Unknown

Side View

Tesuque Pueblo is well known for having made a variety of unusual pottery items in the late 19th century.  Santa Fe merchants, such as Jake Gold, were partly responsible as they encouraged potters at Tesuque to make items the merchants felt were saleable.  Rain god figurines come to mind as merchant-inspired pottery items.


This item, however, is possibly one made without outside influence?  It is a scoop, the kind used to dig into a bowl of tamales and scoop some out for serving.  Also, they were used to scoop dry items, which is quite likely the use for this one as there is no damage from use with hot food.  The fact that it is decorated with imagery of a pueblo dancer does suggest, however, that it was an idea of someone like Jake Gold, as imagery like this was eagerly sought by tourists and collectors of the time.  It looked “ceremonial” and thus was something that might have a secret use at the pueblo.  Ideas like this were good selling techniques.


The underside of this historic pottery scoop is footed and the clay was left in an undecorated state.  There is no slip.  The top side is slipped in cream clay and decorated with black mineral paint.  The imagery is meant to be that of a pueblo dancer. The hole above the head of the dancer would have been for securely holding the scoop while in use as well as to display it by hanging. 


Whether is was made for use at the pueblo or for sale to a merchant in Santa Fe is really unimportant.  What is important is that it is another wonderful creation from Tesuque Pueblo, known for making many unusual items.  It was well constructed and beautifully decorated. It is probably circa 1900, plus or minus 10 years.


Condition: excellent condition

Provenance: from a gentleman in Albuquerque

Recommended Reading: The Native American Curio Trade in New Mexico by Jonathan Batkin. This book is currently not available from Adobe Gallery

Pueblo Potter Unknown
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