Urgent Museum Notice

Jar, Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico

Close up of Jar, Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico

Blackware pottery vessel with tall neck and broad shoulder tapering to a narrow base. The flawless, polished black surface is adorned with deep relief carvings of stylized wings and geometric designs on the shoulder.

Margaret Tafoya, Jar, ca. 1965; Blackware, 17 x 13 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; © Margaret Tafoya

Jar, Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico
Margaret Tafoya

This jar illustrates the traits for which Margaret Tafoya was best known—flawless, highly polished surfaces adorned with deep relief carvings of traditional symbols.

Tafoya, together with her mother Sara Fina, was instrumental in the development of the traditional black pottery of their pueblo. This piece, like all Tafoya’s pots, was built by hand using clay from the pueblo and the coil-building technique.

Historically potters of the Santa Clara Pueblo imprinted the image of a bear claw—symbolic of the bear’s healing power—into the surface of their pots. Tafoya employed this traditional decoration, but also experimented with other symbols and patterns, including the kiva step, mountain, and buffalo horn designs.

The glossy black of this jar and other Tafoya pots is the result of firing in a manure-smothered fire.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Margaret Tafoya
  • Title

    Jar, Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico
  • Date

    ca. 1965
  • Medium

    Blackware
  • Dimensions

    17 x 13 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay
  • Photo Credit

    © Margaret Tafoya
  • On Display

    No