This small elegant vase handcrafted by Santo Domingo artist Helen Bird carries on the important legacy of pottery-making in Santo Domingo Pueblo.
Santo Domingo pottery is known for their graceful forms, symmetry in design, and traditional firing methods; this small vase beautifully displays those elements and the care and craftsmanship of a great artist.
Created by hand from natural clay, this bold, colorful pot is a stunning vessel that captures a historic art.
- Handmade vase by Helen Bird (Santo Domingo Pueblo)
- Natural clay with all-natural vegetal and mineral slip
- Vase measures 4 ¾” tall x 4” wide
- Comes with a signed Certificate of Authenticity
Handcrafted works of Native American art require special care. For more information about proper care and cleaning, please read our Care Guide.
Helen Bird is a renowned Santo Domingo potter who makes elegant vessels in the traditional Santo Domingo style. She was introduced to the art when she was 12 years old by her great-aunt, who brought her along to gather clay from a special hill in their village. Helen has been making pottery professionally since 1991, following a career as an alcohol and substance abuse counselor.
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 simpler in form and design than the work of other Pueblos, with artists often specializing in larger forms like 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.
Native American and Pueblo people of the Southwest have been making clay pottery figures since ancient times. Their creation was discouraged by Christian missionaries and the form was not widely practiced in the 16th–19th centuries. Figurative pottery was revived in the 20th century, and clay figurines have since become one of the most popular and widely collected Native American art forms.
Storytellers are a type of clay figure that is unique to the Southwest. They were developed by Helen Cordero of Cochiti Pueblo 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, Native artists across the Southwest create storytellers, sometimes depicting the elder and children as clowns, drummers, acrobats, cowboys or animals, and handcrafted figurative pottery continues to be one of the most exciting, colorful and successful pottery forms.Read our Native American Pottery Collector's Guide.
At Shumakolowa Native Arts, we guarantee that your purchase is an original and authentic work handcrafted by Native American artists as defined by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. We ask our artists to complete an extensive certification process, providing a CIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) card and other documentation of their Native American heritage. Our team of experts carefully inspects every product to guarantee it is handcrafted using traditional, sustainable processes, and natural materials of only the highest quality. We record the place and date of each purchase, and pride ourselves in paying a fair price that allows artists to make a living practicing their craft.
Every work of handcrafted art comes with a Certificate of Authenticity signed by an artist or buyer. At a time when many commercially made products are being sold as handcrafted Native American art, our in-depth purchase process allows us to guarantee the authenticity of every unique piece of fine art we offer. For more than 35 years, we have made it a priority to visit artists in their studio or home to purchase their latest handcrafted pieces and learn about their work. We have developed lasting relationships with artists, as well as dealers and collectors, and we take pride in being a trusted destination for fine Native American art.