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Margaret Tafoya Olla


Item Number: DR 2047
Pueblo: Santa Clara Pueblo
Artist: Margaret Tafoya
Medium: Clay and pigment
Age: Circa late 1920s – early 1930s
Dimensions: 12” X 10 ½”



This is a good example of Margaret Tafoya’s 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 jar was then painstakingly burnished with a polishing stone and fired in a reduction firing resulting in a beautiful black finish.

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. There is one small interior hairline surface crack (about two inches only),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 140 oz