Red Avanyu Seed Pot

Elizabeth Lovato



This potter comes from an illustrious pottery family. Her mother, the late Donicia Tafoya, mentored both Elizabeth and her famous brother, Juan Tafoya.

This large seed pot – the small opening identifies it as such – features the classic Avanyu, the Pueblo water serpent. It is a traditional good-luck symbol.

Unlike the expected design, here, Avanyu is curled vertically, a creative variation.

A softly glittering area of micaceous clay dominates the center of the pot. The red clay slip on the surface has been scratched away to reveal it.

The micaceous area is not a closed oval, but extends, with jagged, stepped edges, to the sides of the piece.

These refer to traditional rain designs. Water is especially precious in the high desert of New Mexico.

The asymmetrical design revealed swoops and flows sinuously, as befits a serpent slithering through rushing water.

Following the family style, there is an arrow-shaped “water drop” emerging from the Avanyu’s mouth.

Also a family tradition, turquoise beads have been embedded, one as the eye, another centering the smooth round circle in the middle.

Natural, hand gathered clays were hand coiled, smoothed, painted with clay slip, stone polished, and etched.

Fired in the ground, as is also traditional, this is a beautifully formed pot, with a pleasing and innovative design.

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