San Juan Pottery

San Juan Pueblo has a rich pottery tradition, originally creating lovely vessels for functional use. Early historic San Juan pottery includes massive water jars and dough bowls, characterized by beautiful curves and elegant shapes. These pottery making traditions had largely ended by the 1900s, however. In the 1930s, Regina Cata (a Spaniard who married into the tribe) organized a group to revitalize pottery production. The women studied ancient pottery from the area, choosing shards from the 1450s-1500s as a basis for their pottery revival. By 1940, almost 60 potters were making San Juan pottery. Note that “San Juan” is the name given to the Pueblo by the Spaniards. Today, the people prefer their traditional name of Ohkay Owingeh, which means “Place of the Strong People.”

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