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A splendid early Hopi pottery cylinder vase attributed

to Paqua Naha (Original Frogwoman), c.1910-20 by renowned Hopi pottery authority, Edwin L. Wade, Ph.D.

The three most accomplished known Hopi potters of the early years of the 20th Century were Nampeyo of Hano (1856-1942), Grace Chappella (1874-1980) and Paqua Naha (1890-1955), who is also known as the “Original Frogwoman”. These distinguished eminences would soon be joined by Nampeyo’s four talented pottery-making daughters, Annie (1884-1968), Nellie (1896-1978), Fannie (1900-1981) and Daisy (1906-1994). And, in the same manner as Nampeyo before her, Paqua Naha also began and established an extremely distinguished family pottery-making dynasty that lives on today through her famous daughter, Helen Naha (Featherwoman,1922-1993) Helen’s sister-in-law, Joy Navasie (Second Frog Woman,1919-2012), her three grand-daughters Sylvia, Rainy and Burel Naha and her great-grandaughter, Tyra Naha.

As we confirmed in a detailed discussion with the esteemed historic Hopi pottery scholar and celebrated author on the subject, Dr. Edwin L. Wade, this splendid black-on-yellow cylinder jar is clearly recognizable as being Paqua Naha’s work in that it bears a number of the distinct and distinguishing characteristics of Paqua Naha’s early pottery pieces; similar in some ways and certainly equivalent in quality and beauty to the pottery of Nampeyo, but markedly different in certain elements of design style and execution. Dr. Wade’s brief written evaluation of this vessel can be seen immediately below.

The cylinder vase measures just shy of 8” in height and is 4 1/2” in diameter at its widest point. It is in very fine original condition, especially for its approximate century or so of age. There are no cracks or major chips but there are some age-appropriate scuffs, abrasions, slip cracking, small rim chips and slight areas of paint loss in evidence. There is no restoration or overpainting visible under ultraviolet-light examination.

The vessel is unsigned as is typical of this earlier period of Paqua Naha’s work. Beginning around the mid-to-late 1930’s, Paqua began signing her pottery with a distinctive frog insignia in which the frog’s toes pointed upwards. She used this hallmark on her pottery vessels for the rest of her life, differing in this way from Nampeyo who never signed her pottery. Interestingly, there is an old price of $1.50 written in pencil on the bottom of the vase, most likely written there by the trading post who originally sold it, which is yet another indication of the early date of this piece.

This cylinder vase is an early, elegant and historic pottery vessel possessed of a clean, spare, visually-arresting design and a commanding presence which was made over a century ago by an extremely important

and justly-celebrated Native American artist.

Price $2,100

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Paqua Naha, c. 1945?

 Photo source and © Rick Dillingham, "Fourteen Families in

Pueblo Pottery",  University of New Mexico Press, 1994, pp.62

“Nampeyo’s international fame as a ceramicist unfortunately has overshadowed the brilliance of a number of other early 20th Century Hopi potters and especially true of the equally talented Paqua Naha, Frog Woman (1890–1955). As seen in this vase in addition to her creation of a distinctive personal style, Paqua also studied the works and techniques of Nampeyo, adapting both into her sculpturing of vessel forms and painted compositions. Her adoption of white Kaolin clay slip fired in coal makes it difficult with her early vessels, 1910 -1920, to readily distinguish them from the hand of Nampeyo. However, upon closer examination her particular hand is discernible.

She preferred simple but oversized dynamic motifs as with the pendant swirling “migration”, design emphasized on this vase, symbolic of the original dispersal of the people from the underworld. Such free floating design units are Hopi inspired but resonate with the geometric force, power, of the Western artistic tradition of Art Deco, which she beautifully had mastered.”

-Edwin L. Wade, Ph.D.