Clay People



Essay by Jonathan Batkin and Patricia Fogelman Lange, 1999
Soft cover, 96 pages, 61 illustrations

Pueblo Indian potters made figurines based on the human form for centuries, often for ceremonial use or for personal ritual observations. By the mid-nineteenth century potters were making figurines that were clearly intended to be used as toys or for sale to non-Indians. In about 1880, with the arrival of the railroad in New Mexico, the Pueblo figurative tradition exploded and became conspicuous at two Pueblo communities—Cochiti and Tesuque. At Cochiti potters made large figurines intended to satirize the dominant non-Indian population, often depicting people who were marginalized in their own society. At Tesuque potters made small figurines that gradually evolved into the familiar Rain God; these were sold via mail-order catalogs as Pueblo “gods” as early as 1882. The groundbreaking and critically acclaimed exhibition on which this catalog is based featured many of the greatest and earliest examples of these traditions to survive, together with new work by Virgil Ortiz of Cochiti and by Nora Naranjo Morse and Roxanne Swentzell of Santa Clara Pueblo.