I fell in love w/this jar the first time I saw it. I immediately took it to Toni Roller at Santa Clara. Toni, Margaret Tafoya’s daughter and Sara Fina Tafoya’s grand-daughter, has seen family pottery up-close her whole life and I trust her. She smiled and held the jar lovingly. That was enough for me; I asked her to do a write-up on it which I’ll quote here in part, including her use of capital letters:
“I, Toni Roller…identified a Santa Clara Traditional black pottery jar with a Rainbow Band design around the shoulder, as a jar made by my grand-mother, Sara Fina Tafoya…It has no signature on the bottom. The Rainbow Band design includes Rain Drop Impressions and there are 3 Bear Paw designs around the top of the jar. The beautiful polished finish on this jar may have been done by my mother, Margaret Tafoya, because I remember the beautiful polishing my mother would do for her mother sometimes. This jar is in good condition with fire marks near the bottom and water stains inside which show that it had been used.” Toni also remarked that the surface disturbances (like little raised dots) were due to the pitch from the firing pine wood adhering to the jar and that was an indication of early date (1910-’20′s) and a pot made for use, not at all damage or an indication of poor firing; that is a view of a traditional pueblo potter who cherishes pottery long ago made for home use. It colors my own view as well: there is little I find more beautiful on old jars than ethnographic use, attributing to the pot’s service to the family.
There is no restoration.
I have priced this jar based on its excellence and not on the attribution. Attributions are just that and can be debated. I know this: this jar was created by a master potter and artist. And I know from years of experience that when I’ve taken Santa Clara pottery to Toni over the years and I’ve said “Toni, I think this is an unsigned Margaret or Sara Fina…”; sometimes she’s agreed and many times she’s said “I’m not sure…it could have been done by others including Tomacita, Nestora, etc.”.
And I know this too: this is a satisfying and superb jar w/so many elements to cherish if we look from a distace or get very close. (For example, click in on the last bear paw detailed photo; subtle red highlights come through the toes.). Maybe others will love it as I do, maybe not. I’m just so honored to be able to share such a wonderful jar.