This exquisitely detailed miniature jar showcases the fine art of Santa Clara Pueblo potter Monica Naranjo Romero. The highly polished black surface has been covered in sgraffito, a sophisticated style of etching in which the artist carves very intricate designs into the pot by hand. One side of the jar depicts complex geometric forms, including cloud and rain patterns and a curving avanyu, or water serpent, figure that wraps around the rim. The other side depicts a lizard, an animal seen as a mediator to the spirit world, and has been torched after firing to create the red two-tone effect. Handcrafting miniature sgraffito vessels requires an amazing level of technical skill and precision, and Romero produces pieces of unmatched detail and artistry.
- Miniature pot handmade by Monica Naranjo Romero (Santa Clara Pueblo)
- Natural clay with all-natural vegetal and mineral slip
- Crafted through traditional horizontal coil method
- Hand-etched sgraffito depicting lizard, cloud, rain and avanyu designs
- Pot measures 2” x 1-7/8” x 1-7/8”
- 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.
Monica Naranjo Romero (b. 1975) comes from a family of highly regarded Santa Clara potters. Her mother, Geri Naranjo, is an award-winning artist known for small pots with precisely carved sgraffito designs, a style that Monica has emulated in her career. Romero’s grandmother, Ursulita Naranjo, was a highly regarded potter, and her brother, Kevin Naranjo, and her aunt and cousin, Dolores and Ursula Curran, are well known for their miniature pots. Romero makes clay from natural materials gathered at Santa Clara Pueblo, polishes her vessels with a river stone, then etches intricate designs by hand. During firing, she smothers the fire to give her pots their beautiful black finish. She often uses avanyu, or water serpent designs, feather bands, rain symbols, steps, wings and traditional geometrical motifs in her work. Romero has won awards at the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Arts & Crafts Show and Santa Fe Indian Market.
Santa Clara Pueblo, a Tewa-speaking Pueblo located along the Rio Grande River in northern New Mexico, has one of the most dynamic and innovative pottery-making communities in the world. Today, the Pueblo’s best known pottery style is polished blackware with precisely carved sgraffito designs. Blackware can be traced back to the 12th century and was revived in the early 20th century by potters from San Ildefonso Pueblo. Though their style is similar to San Ildefonso’s, Santa Clara potters set themselves apart by carving designs into the clay rather than painting them on the surface. This type of low relief carving, called sgraffito, was a major shift in style that had a lasting effect on modern Pueblo pottery. Blackware remains popular, but there are many Santa Clara artists who have developed their own signature styles. Known for their creativity, these potters experiment with non-traditional, asymmetrical vessel shapes and contemporary design motifs. No matter their style, Pueblo potters from Santa Clara have an unbelievable mastery of their craft, making their handmade pots among the most valuable in the world.
The avanyu is a water serpent that the Pueblo people consider to be the guardian of water. Depicted as a horned serpent with lightning emerging from its mouth, the avanyu is believed to live in the Rio Grande and its tributaries. The creature’s body typically looks like a rippling stream, and the lightning coming from its mouth signifies thunderstorms that bring rain. A common design in the pottery of Santa Clara and San Ildefonso Pueblos, the avanyu represents the importance of water for the Pueblo people.
The most celebrated and recognized art form of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, Pueblo pottery is known around the world for its remarkable beauty and craftsmanship. It has been made in much the same way for over a thousand years, with every step of creation completed by hand. Pueblo potters do not use a wheel but construct pots using the traditional horizontal coil method or freely forming the shape. After the pot is formed, the artist polishes the piece with a natural polishing stone, such as a river stone, then paints it with a vegetal, mineral or commercial slip. Finally, the pot is fired in an outdoor fire or kiln using manure or wood as fuel. Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Jemez and Acoma Pueblos have distinctive pottery styles that are especially prized by collectors, but there are accomplished potters working in all Pueblos. Today, Pueblo pottery is an exciting and dynamic form, with many artists pairing traditional techniques with innovative and stylized designs. Those potters who continue to create pots using traditional methods possess an extraordinary level of skill, and their pots are highly valuable works of fine art that will be enjoyed for generations to come.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.