This artist is a daughter of the famous Betty Manygoats, one of the first, prominent Navajo potters.
Elizabeth learned from watching her mother, and this wedding vase is very much in the maternal style. This wedding vase is typical of Elizabeth’s early work, when she made pots very like her mother’s. Now, she uses bright colors and likes figural pieces.
Unlike some other Navajo potters, who have transformed the traditional into sleek contemporary pieces, Elizabeth has kept to the original, folk-arty look.
Located in remote, north-central Arizona, one of the only places on the Navajo reservation with natural water, Navajo potters have always used melted pinon pitch to seal their work. That accounts for the dark “fire clouds” that are typically seen on Navajo pots – even the contemporary ones.
Horned toads are sacred to the Navajo, based on their creation stories. Placing them on a wedding vase was not approved by traditional Navajo, but Betty, who pioneered the style, didn’t care. Horned toads convey very good luck – especially in such numbers – so are appropriate to a wedding vase.
Entirely handmade of local clay, coiled and smoothed, and fired in the ground, the piece was coated with pinon pitch, which also gives it that glossy finish.
This is a characteristic, traditional Navajo pot, with all those applied horned toads to ensure a happy marriage. The somewhat funky look is part of the charm.
DO NOT put water in this! (Unless you want to end up with a baggie of mud, as one of our customers did.) Daubing with melted pinon pitch doesn’t really keep the clay safe; only if you can easily replace the pots, regularly.