Highly Burnished Bear Paw Jar
This is an extraordinary stone-polished large blackware storage jar by Margaret Tafoya of the Santa Clare Pueblo. This magnificent piece circa 1970’s, was coil formed in native clay over which was applied a red slip then painstakingly burnished with a polishing stone and fired in a reduction firing resulting in a beautiful black finish. The jar features pressed bear paws placed quarterly across the shoulder of the body. Tafoya frequently employs the bear-paw pattern, one of many traditional decorative elements found on Santa Clara pottery, as a symbol of strength, good health, and the power of healing. The remainder of the jar displays a captivating high burnished exterior and attractive shape.
Margret Tafoya of the Santa Clara Pueblo has been instrumental in bringing about the evolution of pottery design in her village. In the early 1920s, she and her husband, Alcario, were the first to adapt Maria and Julian Martinez’s black-on-black and buff-on-red styles, but they carved, rather than painted designs onto the surface of the vessel. Margaret has long been recognized for her ability to make very large, perfectly symmetrical jars of the type once used by the pueblo people for storage. Tafoya’s work has become synonymous with her village as her seven daughters and other residents have incorporated her techniques and emulated her style in their own works, transforming her innovations into traditions.
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