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Tesuque Pueblo Painted Rain God Figurine

C3797C-rain-god.jpg

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The 1920s saw an explosion of activity in Santa Fe related to Native American tribes and their arts and crafts.  What is known today as Santa Fe Indian Market got its start in 1922, Route 66 officially was established in 1926, The Fred Harvey Company established its official headquarters for its “Indian Detours” at Hotel La Fonda in 1926, the Indian Arts Fund began collecting fine examples of pottery for the Museum of New Mexico, and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. founded and funded the Laboratory of Anthropology.  Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop was published in the 1920s as was Oliver La Farge’s Laughing Boy.  All of these events and activities were responsible for bringing Santa Fe and New Mexico to the attention of Americans throughout the country.

 

Such an explosion of visitors to Santa Fe was the impetus for a strong market for pueblo pottery.  The Fred Harvey Detours took visitors directly to the pueblos to purchase pottery from the potters.  Tesuque, being the closest pueblo to Santa Fe, was a favorite destination.  Rain God production continued but its market became tourist visitors rather than Santa Fe merchants.  Production of rain gods slowed but never ceased completely.

 

Tesuque potters began adding more design elements to the figurines.  Poster paints were available in numerous colors and was the paint of choice beginning in the mid-1920s.  A study conducted by Duane Anderson of 441 rain gods revealed that 50 were cream-slipped and poster painted. Three-fourths of those wore necklaces.  Red paint outlined in black was a popular color choice. Anderson 2002

 

This rain god figurine would easily fit the mid-1920s period.  It has a cream slip and red poster paint outlined in black.  Fingers and toes are not delineated.

 

Condition: very good condition with some loss of cream slip

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

Provenance: from the collection of a New York City resident


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