Rose Williams, Diné Potter
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Diné artist Rose Williams was known as one of the finest of the older generation of Navajo Nation potters. Few other potters of the Lók'aa'dine'é Clan were as active as she. Rose was known for making very large vessels, more so than other Navajo potters. It is never known how successful a firing will be. Many pots are lost during this final step of the process of pottery making.
The Diné had a long tradition of making pottery before the 1800s, mostly decorated and mostly utilitarian, but, for some reason, making decorated pottery was forbidden by a Medicine Man so pottery production ceased. Mae Adson, a relative of Rose Williams, explained the taboo against decoration as follows: "The Anasazi started to over decorate their pottery, and the wind destroyed them, because of that. That's why we are told not to decorate pottery." (Rosenak, 1994) Pottery production was eventually revived in plainware form.
Rose Williams (1915-2015) was a living treasure of the Shonto/Cow Springs area of the Navajo Reservation. Rose was an adult when she learned to make pottery but continued doing so for over three decades. She taught successive Diné generations the Navajo tradition of pottery making-among them Faye Tso, Silas Claw, Louise Goodman, and Lorena Bartlett. Her children, Alice Cling, Sue Ann Williams, and Susie Williams Crank, and her daughter-in-law, Lorraine Williams, are all recognized potters.
The Navajo Way is one of close-knit extended families sharing common Clan relationships based on matrilineal descent. Some clans have become known for unique skills. The Lók'aa'dine'é Clan (Reed People) in the Shonto/Cow Springs area has long been recognized for its pottery making, and many of the present-day potters or their spouses-Silas Claw, Faye Tso, Rose Williams, and Alice Cling-are members of this clan.
Note: when we say Diné, as opposed to Navaho or Navajo, we are referring to the people and not the government. Since 1969, their government refers to itself as the Navajo Nation.
Original Photo image of artist that is with our Item #26191.
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