The Fascinating Evolution
Of Navajo Pottery
By Rebekah Powers | June 2022
Historically, the pre-historic semi nomadic Navajo people used baskets for storage. It is believed that when they dried meat, they would line a basket with clay to hold the meat and put it directly into the fire. The baskets burned away, but they observed that the remaining clay was a sturdy vessel that had its own uses. Many of those ancient pots still had the impression of the basket weave on the surfaces. Eventually, they began to make pots for utilitarian and then, ceremonial purposes, finding the best clay fields by looking at the clay, touching it, smelling and even tasting it.
Using refined pine pitch and polishing to a sheen made the pots both waterproof and beautiful, with fire clouds coloring the finish and more refined shapes developing. A change occurred when museums and trading posts began to notice a few exceptional clay artists who were taking transitional Navajo pottery to new levels that rivaled Pueblo pottery.
Today the descendants of those artists continue to improve upon their collective Navajo history and are internationally known for the simple elegance of the finishes, the perfection of form and the soft glowing surfaces of the pots that distinguish Navajo pottery from all others.
Chimayo Trading has just received new works by several of our most revered artists. Samuel Manymules remains one of the most recognized Navajo potters in the world, known for incorporating the beauty of natural design, such as the squash into his larger pots.
Alice ClingAlice Cling is another famous name in the genre, with smaller works that outshine other potters with her hand burnished surfaces and consistent quality of design. We are also showing Susie Crank who incorporates the rich reds, purples and browns from natural minerals into natural clay giving her pieces a depth of color that sets her apart from everyone else. Lorraine Williams Yazzi was taught by both Susie Crank and Alice Cling she distinguishes her work with sgraffito and other designs expertly rendered in a way that harkens to the past.
We are also introducing the experimental and more modern designs of Kenneth and Irene White, a Diné couple who have entered the field with a splash, known for the elaborate decoration of their pots and wedding vases which refer to the Ye’i designs of Navajo weavings.
Altogether, they represent the unique aesthetic of the Navajo and the variations within. Our gallery is focused on the artists themselves and how their life experiences and generational wisdom inform their work. It is a rare treat to view this array of works by Navajo potters working today.. Come to the gallery soon to hold one in your own two hands and reflect on the forces of nature and Navajo evolution that has brought us these exquisite artistic clay art forms.
If you have had a memorable experience with us in the past,
please leave a review.
Come to the gallery to see where History Meets Art in Taos..
#1 Saint Francis Church Plaza
Ranchos de Taos, NM 87557
We buy individual pieces or whole collections.
Contact us for the evaluation and resale of your collectible art.
We’re interested in locating relevant collections and original New Mexico artwork for purchase. We buy historic and contemporary relevant paintings, pottery, jewelry, textiles, weavings and more.
Contact us directly to discuss and evaluate your collection. If you’re an artist, contact us about the possibility of selling your art on consignment or direct wholesale purchase.
Copyright © 2023 Chimayo Trading Del Norte | Ranchos Del Taos, 87557 | All rights reserved.