Ceramic Bowl

Accession Number

Ceramic Bowl

Legoria Tafoya

Object Creation Date
circa 1950

Medium & Support

3 1/16 x 4 3/16 x 4 3/16 in. (7.7 x 10.6 x 10.6 cm);3 1/16 x 4 3/16 x 4 3/16 in. (7.7 x 10.6 x 10.6 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Estelle Titiev, from the collection of Mischa Titiev

Label copy
March 28, 2009
Part of a long line of exceptional potters, Legoria Tafoya produced pottery using traditional techniques. The process began with clay, dug from a location known to her family, mixed with a tempering agent to decrease the potential for cracking and promote even firing. No potter’s wheel was used to make her vessels; they were formed using the coil technique, in which long snake-like coils are circled around the base and then blended to make walls. The vessel is then smoothed and shaped using pieces of gourd. After it partially dries, it is scraped to refine the shape and surface, and then sanded. Slip (liquid clay) is applied and then burnished with a smooth stone before firing to give a lustrous surface. Next decoration is painted on, which results in matte areas when fired. The black color of the pot comes from clay unique to the reservation, whose high iron content turns black when fired. First wood and dried cow manure are piled around an iron grill and lit on fire; this is then smothered with ash or fresh manure, producing a smoke-filled reducing atmosphere that blackens the pot.

Subject matter
A beautiful, functional object made by an award-winning artist from the Santa Clara Pueblo people.

Physical Description
A deep bowl with a wide mouth made of black earthenware. The upper half of the bowl is decorated with a horizontal and diagonal design in a lighter shade of black and rougher texture than the smooth black surface.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Native American
Pueblo (Native American style)
applied decoration
bowls (vessels)
modern and contemporary art

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted