Jemez (He-mish)

The Jemez are a Towa-speaking people whose modern Pueblo village, known as Walatowa, is located 55 miles northwest of Albuquerque. The Jemez people migrated from the Four Corners area in the late 13th century, and by the time of European contact in 1541 were one of the largest and most powerful Puebloan cultures. Their villages and stone fortresses, sometimes more than four stories high with thousands of rooms, make up some of the largest and most significant archeological ruins in the United States. This early Jemez culture was known for its pottery but the decorative forms died out in the mid-18th century. Pottery-making was revived in the early 20th century and today Jemez bowls, seed pots, wedding vases, figurines, ornaments and storytellers are collected around the world. In addition to swirl and melon style wares Jemez potters are particularly known for their use of sgraffito, a technique of elaborately carving designs into the surface of a clay pot. In addition to pottery, Jemez artists also create beautiful basketry, embroidery, woven cloths, exquisite stone sculpture, moccasins and jewelry.