This publication is companion to an exhibition that opened at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe in Fall 2008 and featured over 300 Santo Domingo and Cochiti pots. It focuses on the differences in pottery design of two neighboring New Mexican pueblos, Cochiti & Santo Domingo, located south of Santa Fe and north of Albuquerque. Separated by a river, Cochiti and Santo Domingo Pueblos shared a ceramic tradition for centuries until increasing contact with outsiders brought great change and divergent paths. Cochiti modified its traditional forms of pottery for new markets, while Santo Domingo shunned the tourist trade and art market, continuing a more conservative trajectory that was conservative and insular. A valuable addition to the libraries of those interested in Pueblo Indian pottery, Native American arts and culture, and Southwestern history and anthropology.
- Editor: Valerie K. Verzuh; Forward by Shelby Tisdale
- Hardcover: 185 pages
- Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (September 1, 2008)
- ISBN-10: 0890135223
- Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 9.3 x 0.9 inches
Valerie Verzuh is curator of the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology (Museum of New Mexico).
Santo Domingo is most known for its beautiful heishi necklaces handcrafted from shell and gemstones but the Pueblo also has a long and distinguished tradition of beautiful handmade pottery. The pottery of Santo Domingo can appear more simple in form and design than the work of other Pueblos, with artists often specializing in larger forms like water jars, ollas and dough bowls. The traditional Santo Domingo style features brown, black or red designs on a buff background, often with a red base, though red-on-black and blackware pots are also made today. Santo Domingo vessels are most easily distinguished from pottery of other Pueblos by their large, blocky and often symmetrical designs. The Pueblo is one of the most conservative, and painting realistic animals, human figures or other sacred symbols on pottery is discouraged. Common designs include flowers, geometric motifs such as circles and scalloped patterns, and stylized birds and animals. Today there are a number of skilled Santo Domingo potters creating elegant traditional pots, carrying on the legacy of an ancient and beautiful craft.
Cochiti Pueblo has been making sophisticated clay pottery and figurines for hundreds of years. It may be best known as the birthplace of the Storyteller figure, one of the most widely collected and recognized Pueblo art forms. Storytellers were developed by Cochiti Pueblo potter Helen Cordero in 1963 and traditionally depict a male elder telling stories to children, all with open mouths. Cordero was inspired by the traditional “Singing Mother” figure often represented in clay, and by her grandfather, a legendary Cochiti storyteller. In Pueblo culture, stories are passed down orally from generation to generation, and the Storyteller figure represents the importance of the storytelling tradition. Today, Cochiti potters make traditional Storytellers as well as more contemporary figurines that depict non-traditional subjects such as animals and are often whimsical or humorous in style. Cochiti’s traditional pottery style is a black, red and buff polychrome with the base and interior of the vessel painted red. Traditional designs include birds, animals, rain, clouds, flowers, lightning and other motifs drawn from nature. Today, pottery-making remains an extremely strong and vibrant art form in Cochiti Pueblo, with many artists producing work of incredibly high quality in both traditional and contemporary styles.
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