Santa Clara is a Tewa tribe located
twenty-five miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico on the west bank of
the Rio Grande. Santa Clara has more potters than any other pueblo.
They produce various styles, types, colors and sizes ranging from
large traditional ollas to fine incised miniatures. Almost all of the
pottery made today is signed.
Santa Clara mainly uses the black-on-black
style of pottery, a decoration that comes only from the high polish
given to the black surface by painstaking rubbing. A common decoration
is the bear paw design which is made by pressing a five-pointed mark
into the soft clay.
Since 1930 women have been experimenting
with designs of matte (lusterless) black on polished black like those
first made at the San Ildefonso pueblo. There are two vessel shapes
that are distinctly Santa Clara: the wedding jar; a double-necked jar
with two mouths connected by a handle, and a high necked wide mouthed
jar with a squat body.
Santa Clara is also known for the black
animal figurines that are molded, not coiled.
The Pueblo of Santa Clara
was established around 1550 in its current location when a drought
forced their ancestors to move into the Rio Grande Valley. The people
of Santa Clara can trace their ancestry to the occupants of a
cliffside village known as the Puye Cliff Dwellings. The stunning
ruins were built alongside a cliff face in the Santa Clara Canyon and
are open to visitors year round. The Pueblo itself is located about a
mile and a half (2.4 kilometers) south of Espaņola.