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Sara Fina Tafoya Olla


Item Number: DR 2046
Pueblo: Santa Clara Pueblo
Artist: Sara Fina Tafoya
Medium: Clay and pigment
Age: Circa late 1920s- early 1930s
Dimensions: 12” X 10 ½”



This is a wonderful example of Sarafina Tafoya’s incredible pottery. It has an extremely fine burnish and a deep black firing. The jar grows outward from the base to mid-body, and then flows inward to the neck that goes upward.  It was constructed of native Tewa clay and coil-formed in the traditional manner, over which a red slip was applied.  The two bear paws on either side were pushed from the outside to the inside – not carved. This pushed bear paw is a signature of Sarafina’s pottery. The jar was then painstakingly burnished with a polishing stone by Margaret, her daughter, and then fired in a reduction firing resulting in a beautiful black finish. Sarafina and Margaret often collaborated on the making of pottery, because Margaret’s polishing was much more glossy and fine than Sarafina’s.

The tendency is to associate the bear paw design with the early Tafoya potters, but it existed for over a thousand years before Margaret Tafoya’s mother, Sarafina’s time.  It is a design reserved for use on water vessels, a design based on an old legend. It is said that the bear paw is put on water jars to enhance the chances that the jar will never be empty of water, a belief based on the fact that bears can always find water.

Condition:  Very good- structurally it is in very good condition with some minor scratches and surface marring, as would be expected on a jar of this age.  A few inside rim chips have been professionally restored (certification provided). There is one exterior surface hairline crack, which does not in any manner affect the structure and stability of the jar.
Provenance: As this historic jar dates from the 1920s-1930s, it is unsigned.  A Certificate of Authentication from both Toni Roller (Sarafina’s granddaughter) and from Jeff Roller (her great-grandson) is provided with the lovely jar.  In addition, a letter of attribution from Dr. Mark Sublette will be provided to the purchaser, as well as a COA from the Gallery.

Additional information

Weight 138 oz