Helen Shupla (1928-1985) - Santa Clara Black Pottery Basket with Carved Avanyu Design c. 1970s, 4.75" x 3.25" (P91331-078-103)
- Circa: 1970s
- Size: 4.75'' x 3.25''
This pottery is in near excellent condition, with only minor scratches to the sides. The bottom is signed "Helen Shupla, Santa Clara Pueblo". Avanyu is Tewa for "water serpent" and is the Tewa deity, the guardian of water. Avanyu is the "one who lives in the water below the earth, one who carries us through the water of change." It symbolizes the importance for water to life in the desert and is also associated with lightning in the serpent's tongue. The curves of the serpent's body represent flowing water. Avanyu is believed to have birthed the waterways and has the voice of thunder. The sacred Avanyu lives in streams and is feathered with a turquoise horn in the middle of its forehead. The horn moves, sending rain for crops. When the Avanyu creeps on the ground and snaps its tail, it causes thunder, and when its tongue strikes out of it mouth, it causes lightning. Seeing the Avanyu it will bring luck and good health, and it means there is water nearby or that it will rain soon. The San Ildefonso and Santa Clara pueblos of New Mexico commonly use the Avanyu design in their pottery.