Papago (Tohono O'odham) Indian Basket

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Item number: PYH 5514

Native American artist Matilda Saraficio made this handsome coiled basket at Geawuk on the Tohono O'odham Reservation in Arizona. The pattern is striking: four flying birds, each with a perfectly placed eye with a centered pupil. Matilda was an exhibitor at the Tucson Folklife Festival in 2012, demonstrating her coiled baskets.

The dish-shaped basket was coiled of bleached yucca leaves stitched tightly together, the rim stitching and the birds made with devil's claw. The accompanying tag, signed by Matilda and proclaiming the basket "PAPAGO INDIAN HANDICRAFT FROM KITT PEAK, ARIZONA," gives further information on the reverse side. (Kitt Peak mountain and Geawuk are both in Pima County, Arizona.) The tag's tied on to the basket with a piece of old white string. There is a similar basket--with a less interesting pattern--in the Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. It was purchased by a couple vacationing in the Kitt Peak area in 1972.

The basket is in wonderful condition, with no broken or missing stitches, no stains and only slight fading of the devil's claw. The diameter is 8 1/4 inches, the height is 1 3/4 inches and it weighs 6 ounces. The tag is in good condition, with the printing and writing clear on both sides. This is an excellent basket to display...and desirable for the basket collector.


PYH 5514

This Santa Clara Pueblo plate features a tribal member dressed in the traditional eagle costume, performing the dance that represents the movements of the eagle as it soars between heaven and earth. Wearing an eagle headdress and a pair of feathered wings, the bare-chested male dancer has on a type of breechcloth/apron, also decorated with feathers, and circlets of feathers on his legs above his moccasins. Designs depicting Pueblo dancers from Santa Clara's storytelling traditions are often used on their pottery.

The pueblo of Santa Clara is known for its carved red pottery, generally thick like this plate to allow for carving the surfaces. The red color results from a combination of the colors of the clay and the slip used. The piece was first given a coat of slip, cream colored and at times almost yellow, with the carved designs coated with the red slip next, including the potter's signature "Billie."

The next to the last photo is of page 147 of the book "American Indian Pottery, 2nd Edition," by John. W. Barry (1984). We've included this to show a similar plate to this one that is pictured in the top row on the right. It's identified at the bottom of the page as #427, "Santa Clara Pueblo. Goldenrod {name of potter}, Eagle Dancer. 1980" with the measurements (2 5/8 by 1 1/2 inches) indicating it's a miniature.

This dished plate measures 12 1/2 inches in diameter and stands 1 3/4 inches high on a 9 inch wide foot. It weighs about 5 pounds and is in very good condition. There is light wear around the rim that shows the cream slip underneath. There are two glaze flakes on the back, but there are no chips, cracks or other damage. A beautiful piece of Native American pottery, this large plate makes an impressive display alone or as part of a collection.


PYH 4901