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Water Jar

Arts of the Americas

This tapered water jar with a highly polished black surface has a bear-paw motif on its neck. Alluding to the Santa Clara legend of a bear that led people to water in a time of drought, the bear paw is placed upright, as if in prayer asking for rain and everlasting life. The bands around the jar, referred to as rainbows, are also considered prayers, to keep the water from evaporating. According to Margaret Tafoya, the bear paw and rainbow designs are gifts from her Santa Clara ancestors.


Esta jarra alargada de superficie negra bruñida tiene un motivo de garra de oso en el cuello. Aludiendo a la leyenda Santa Clara en la cual un oso condujo a la gente al agua en tiempo de sequía, la garra de oso está colocada hacia arriba, como en una plegaria pidiendo lluvia y vida eterna. Las franjas alrededor de la jarra, semejando un arcoíris, también se consideran plegarias, para prevenir que se evapore el agua. De acuerdo con Margaret Tafoya, los diseños de garra de oso y el arcoíris son regalos de sus ancestros Santa Clara.
MEDIUM Ceramic, slip
DATES ca. 1970
DIMENSIONS 16 3/8 x 13 in. or (41.6 x 33.0 cm)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 87.61
CREDIT LINE Gift of The Roebling Society
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This is a tapered water jar with a highly polished black surface. The bear paw imprint is first impressed then carved into neck of jar.The design relates to a Santa Clara legend where at a time of drought it was the bear who led the people to where there was water. The bear paw is placed upright as if in prayer asking for rain and everlasting life for the Santa Clara people. The bands around the jar are called rainbow bands and each band is considered a prayer to keep the water from evaporating. Maria felt that both the bear paw and rainbow bands were from their ancestors and belonged to their pueblo.
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