Object: Bowl

New Mexico
Santa Clara Pueblo
20th century
Materials: ceramic

Santa Clara Pueblo is one of many so-called “Pueblo” tribes from the southwest. The Spanish first encountered this group of tribes in the 16th century, living in villages that the Spanish called pueblos, meaning “villages.” While these tribes may have seemed similar to early Spanish explorers there are many differences in language, religious beliefs, and social structure that make each pueblo unique.

This bowl is a typical example of Santa Clara Pueblo pottery. Pottery from this tribe is similar to that made by the San Ildefonso Pueblo but tends to have thicker walls and deeply carved designs. Both tribes are known for their black-on-black style of pottery that was popularized by the famous San Ildefonso potter, Maria Martinez.

This particular bowl is interesting because it has a signature on the bottom, which reads “Rosalie and Joe.” It seems likely that this signature indicates that Rosalie and Joe Aguilar made this bowl. Rosalie was a prolific potter during her lifetime. She was a friend and neighbor of Rose Gonzales and during the early 1930s she and Rose were among the first to carve pottery. Rosalie’s deep carved black ware in the form of jars and bowls were carved in the ‘cameo style.’ The clay was carefully carved away allowing her designs to stand out in relief. She then rounded the edges by sanding. Joe was the son of Susana Martinez Aguilar, and the husband of Rosalie Simbola Aguilar. Joe was an excellent painter and painted pots formed by his mother Susana and his wife Rosalie.

An example of another bowl made by Rosalie and Joe Aguilar can be found in the Wichita State University, Lowell D. Holmes Museum of Anthropology. There are also several examples of their signature available on the internet. However, when examining the signature closely I noticed that the “J” in Joe’s signature is written differently than on the online examples. DSCN5511Can you help? Do you know if the signatures on this piece are really those of Rosalie and Joe Aguilar? If you can help SNOMNH identify this item, let us know what you know via a comment to this weblog or via email to dcswan@ou.edu. [Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]

For more information on Santa Clara pottery see:
Santa Clara Pottery Today by Betty LeFree
Santa Clara Pottery by Museum of the Plains Indian and Crafts Center

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Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.


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