Louis Naranjo

Cochiti

Louis Naranjo (1932-1997) was the son of Frances Naranjo Suina. Louis had been born at San Ildefonso Pueblo but when his mother married into Cochiti Pueblo and moved to her new husband's home there, he went, too. Louis grew up at Cochiti and watched as his mother learned how to make Cochiti pottery. However, during those years he showed no interest at all.

Louis married Virginia Arquero (daughter of Salvador and Evaline Arquero, niece of Juanita Arquero) in 1961 and she learned how to make pottery from watching and working with Louis' mother, Frances. She got really good at it and won a number of prestigious awards. Then she suffered a stroke.

While recovering from the stroke, Virginia and Frances taught Louis how to make pottery. He, too, got really good at it. Louis is credited with innovating the first Bear Storytellers and the first Antelope Storytellers. Sometimes Louis would collaborate on a piece with Virginia, sometimes with their daughter, Pauline. Usually, though, he worked on his own.

According to Southern Pueblo Pottery, 2000 Artist Biographies, Louis won an impressive string of ribbons at the Santa Fe Indian Market between 1983 and 1996 with his innovative storyteller figures.


100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
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Cochiti Pueblo

The view west from Cochiti Lake
View west across Cochiti Pueblo

Cochiti Pueblo lies fifteen miles south of Santa Fe along the west bank of the Rio Grande. Frijoles Canyon in what is now Bandelier National Monument is the site of the pueblo's most recent ancestral home. The Eastern Keresans may have relocated to the Bandelier area from the Four Corners region around 1300.

Cochiti legend says that Clay Old Woman and Clay Old Man came to visit the Cochitis. While all the people watched, Clay Old Woman shaped a pot. Clay Old Man danced too close and kicked the pot. He rolled the clay from the broken pot into a ball, gave a piece to all the women in the village and told them never to forget to make pottery.

Ancestral home of the Cochiti people
At Bandelier National Monument

In prehistoric times, human effigy pots, animals, duck canteens and bird shaped pitchers with beaks as spouts were common productions of the Cochiti potters. Many of these were condemned as idols and destroyed by the Franciscan priests. That problem stopped when the Spanish left in 1820 but the fantastic array of figurines created by Cochiti potters was essentially dormant until the railroad arrived. Then Cochiti potters were among the first to enter the tourist market and they produced many whimsical figures into the early 1900s. Then production followed the market into more conventional shapes.

Legend has it that a Ringling Brothers Circus train broke down near Cochiti Pueblo in the 1920s. Supposedly, the tribe's contact with the ringmaster, trapeze artists, opera singers, sideshow quot;freaks" and exotic animals paved the way for a variety of new figural subjects. However, shortly after the railroad passed through, a delegation of Cochiti men got on the train and traveled to Washington DC. There they were introduced to the President, spoke to Congress, and were taken on a tour of the "highlights" of American civilization in Washington and in New York City, incuding the Metropolitan Opera, the Bronx Zoo and a performance of the Ringling Brothers Circus. As none of the men could read or write, nor draw, what they brought back to Cochiti was what they remembered of things they had never seen before. The stories they told must have been wild. An astute observer will find angels, nativities, cowboys, tourist caricatures, snakes, dinosaurs, turtles, goats, two-headed opera singers, clowns, tattooed strongmen, Moorish nuns and even mermaids in the Cochiti pottery pantheon, many produced only since the early 1960s and based on characters described in Cochiti's oral history.

A few modern potters make traditional styled pots with black and red flowers, animals, clouds, lightning and geometric designs but most Cochiti pottery artists now create figurines. Most notable is the storyteller, a grandfather or grandmother figure with "babies" perched on it. Helen Cordero is credited with creating the first storyteller in 1964 to honor her grandfather. The storyteller style was quickly picked up by other pueblos and each modified the form to match their local situation (ie: clay colors and tribal and religious traditions). In some pueblos, storytellers are also now made as drummers and as a large variety of animals.

Today, Cochiti potters face the challenge of acquiring the clay for the white slip. Construction of Cochiti Dam in the 1960s destroyed their primary source of their trademark white slip and gray clay. Now the white slip comes from one dwindling source at Santo Domingo, Cochiti Pueblo's neighbor to the south.

Most outsiders who visit Cochiti Pueblo these days do so on the way to or from either the recreation area on Cochiti Lake or Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.


Map showing the location of Cochiti Pueblo

For more info:
at Wikipedia
official website

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved

 

Aminiaturepolychromebearstorytellerfigurewithonecub, Click or tap to see a larger version
See a larger version


Louis Naranjo, Cochiti, Aminiaturepolychromebearstorytellerfigurewithonecub
Louis Naranjo
Cochiti
$ 195
dbco4d322
A miniature polychrome bear storyteller figure with one cub
1.5 in L by 1.5 in W by 2.25 in H
Condition: Very good with age appropriate wear
Signature: Louis Naranjo


100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved

Storytellers

Pueblos: Cochiti, Jemez, Acoma, Isleta, Santa Clara

Helen Cordero storyteller with ten children


Helen Cordero
Cochiti Pueblo
Judy Toya storyteller with sixteen children


Judy Toya
Jemez Pueblo
Marilyn Ray storyteller with three children


Marilyn Ray
Acoma Pueblo

Historically, clay figures have been present in the Pueblo pottery tradition for most of the last thousand years. However, figures and effigies were denounced as "works of the devil" by the Spanish missionaries in New Mexico between 1540 and 1820. Before and after that time the art of making figurative sculpture flourished, especially at Cochiti Pueblo.

The "storyteller" is an important role in the tribe as the Native American people did not have a written language to record anything for posterity. The closest thing they had to a written language were the designs they used to decorate pottery, textiles and stone. The storyteller's role was to preserve, retell and pass down the oral history of their people. In most tribes that role was fulfilled by men.

The first real storyteller figure was created in 1964 by Cochiti Pueblo potter Helen Cordero. She made it in memory of her grandfather, Santiago Quintana, and the stories he sang to her and other children in their native Keres when she was young.

Helen's creation struck a chord throughout all the pueblos as the storyteller is a figure central to all their societies. Most tribes also have the figure of the Singing Maiden in their pantheon and in many cases, the mix of Singing Maiden and Storyteller has blurred some lines in the pottery world. Today, as many as three hundred potters in thirteen pueblos have created storytellers, and their storytellers are not only men and women, but also Santa's, mudheads, koshares, bears, owls and other animals, sometimes encumbered with children numbering more than one hundred! Each potter has also customized their storyteller figures to more closely reflect the forms, dress and decorations of their own tribes, often even of their own clans.


100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved

Miniatures

Most people think that miniature pottery is something new in the world of Native American pottery. In reality, archaeologists have found miniature pottery in the remains of ancient ruins in Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, across eastern Arizona, southern New Mexico and south to the Paquimé and Casas Grandes region in northern Mexico. Archaeologists working in the eastern US have found miniature pottery spread across Early Woodland Culture sites, too, dated up to 1700 years ago.

We have no idea as to why the ancients created miniature pottery but there's lots of speculation. Perhaps it was made as toys for children. Perhaps it was made by children learning to make pottery, and as their expertise grew, the size of their pieces grew, too. Perhaps it was made and placed in a firing pit as a good luck charm, hoping that other pots being fired in the pit would survive the firing process and not crack or break. Perhaps it was made for some ceremonial purpose we have no possibility of knowing. We do know that in North America, almost every pottery-making group of ancients made miniature pottery. They decorated it, too, just like the full size pottery the women of the time were making.

As the rebirth of traditionally made Native American pottery has unfolded over the last century, research into the ancient forms, styles and designs has also brought the miniature back into focus. There are more than a few potters these days making tiny gems again, similar to and, at the same time, more refined than the products of the potters of prehistory. And while some are still being made by children learning as they grow up, many more are being made by established adult potters. Some have made their entire careers around the making of miniatures while others sometimes make a few miniatures to complement the full range of forms and styles of full size pieces they make.



100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved

Frances Naranjo Suina Family Tree

Disclaimer: This "family tree" is a best effort on our part to determine who the potters are in this family and arrange them in a generational order. The general information available is questionable so we have tried to show each of these diagrams to living members of each family to get their input and approval, too. This diagram is subject to change should we get better info.

Frances was born into San Ildefonso Pueblo but she was orphaned before she was one year old. She was raised at the St. Catherine's Orphanage and St. Catherine's Indian School in Santa Fe. She married a Mr. Naranjo and they had a son but it didn't work out. Then she married a Mr. Suina and moved to his home at Cochiti Pueblo.

Frances Naranjo Suina (1928-2013)
  • Virginia Naranjo (1932-) & Louis Naranjo (San Ildefonso)(1932-1997)
    • Mary Edna Trujillo (1965-)
    • Pauline Naranjo (1969-)
      • Dale Naranjo
      • Jeremy Naranjo
      • Michelle Naranjo

Some of the above info is drawn from Southern Pueblo Pottery, 2000 Artist Biographies, by Gregory Schaaf, © 2002, Center for Indigenous Arts & Studies. Other info is derived from personal contacts with family members and through interminable searches of the Internet and cross-examination of the data found.

100 West San Francisco Street, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
(505) 986-1234 - www.andreafisherpottery.com - All Rights Reserved