Joe and Eunice Naranjo, zzsc3a063, Black melon bowl with eight ribs


A black melon bowl carved with eight ribs and with a sgraffito turtle design around the rim

In stock

Dimensions 2.75 × 2.75 × 2.25 in
Condition of Piece


Date Born



Joe G and Eunice Naranjo SCP, with hallmark


Naranjo, Joe and Eunice

Joseph G. Naranjo learned how to make pottery from his mother, Isabel Naranjo, as he was growing up. He was making carved blackware jars and bowls before he met and married Eunice Maize, a Dineh woman.

After they were married, Eunice moved to Joe's home at Santa Clara Pueblo. She had learned to weave as she grew up but said she didn't have the patience needed for it. So Joe taught her how to make pottery. Together they started participating in the Eight Northern Pueblos Arts & Crafts Show in the mid-1990s.

Joe generally makes the pieces, Eunice sands them, Joe carves them, polishes them and fires them. On some pieces Joe's cousin, Kevin Naranjo, adds some sgraffito designs.

Eunice makes pottery of her own, too. She generally makes black animal figures: cows and sheep, and decorates them with bits of wool and cowhide.

Some Awards earned by Joe and Eunice

  • 2023 Santa Fe Indian market, Classification II-D, Category 806 - With added elements (like beads, feathers, stones, etc), any form, Second Place

A Short History of Santa Clara Pueblo

A stacked-stone building on the side of a cliff marked with the holes of former roof beams in ancient Puye, a ruin of the Santa Clara people
Ancient cliff dwellings at Puyé

Santa Clara Pueblo straddles the Rio Grande about 25 miles north of Santa Fe. Of all the pueblos, Santa Clara has the largest number of potters.

The ancestral roots of the Santa Clara people have been traced to ancient pueblos in the Mesa Verde region in southwestern Colorado. When the weather in that area began to get dry between about 1100 and 1300 CE, some of the people migrated to the Chama River Valley and constructed Poshuouinge (about 3 miles south of what is now Abiquiu on the edge of the mesa above the Chama River). Eventually reaching two and three stories high with up to 700 rooms on the ground floor, Poshuouinge was inhabited from about 1375 CE to about 1475 CE.

Drought then again forced the people to move. One group of the people went to the area of Puyé (along Santa Clara Canyon, cut into the eastern slopes of the Pajarito Plateau of the Jemez Mountains). Another group went south of there to what we now call Tsankawi. A third group went a bit to the north, following the Rio Chama down to where it met the Rio Grande and founded Ohkay Owingeh on the northwest side of that confluence.

Beginning around 1580, another drought forced the residents of the Puyé area to relocate closer to the Rio Grande. There, near the point where Santa Clara Creek merged into the Rio Grande, they founded what we now know as Santa Clara Pueblo. Ohkay Owingeh was to the north on the other side of the Rio Chama. That same dry spell forced the people down the hill from Tsankawi to the Rio Grande where they founded San Ildefonso Pueblo to the south of Santa Clara, on the other side of Black Mesa.

In 1598 Spanish colonists from nearby Yunqué (the seat of Spanish government near the renamed "San Juan de los Caballeros" Pueblo) brought the first missionaries to Santa Clara. That led to the first mission church being built around 1622. However, the Santa Clarans chafed under the weight of Spanish rule like the other pueblos did and were in the forefront of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. One pueblo resident, a mixed black and Tewa man named Domingo Naranjo, was one of the rebellion's ringleaders.

When Don Diego de Vargas came back to the area in 1694, he found most of the Santa Clarans were set up on top of nearby Black Mesa (with the people of San Ildefonso, Pojoaque, Tesuque and Nambé). An extended siege didn't subdue them but eventually, the two sides negotiated a treaty and the people returned to their pueblos. However, successive invasions and occupations by northern Europeans took their toll on the pueblos over the next 250 years. The Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 almost wiped them out.

Today, Santa Clara Pueblo is home to as many as 2,600 people and they comprise probably the largest per capita number of artists of any North American tribe (estimates of the number of potters run as high as 1-in-4 residents).

A display of the harvest at Santa Clara
After the harvest
Looking across Santa Clara Pueblo to the Rio Grande in 1920
The view across Santa Clara to the Rio Grande, 1920
Map showing the location of Santa Clara Pueblo reltaive to Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Gallup, New Mexico
The location of Santa Clara Pueblo
For more info:
Santa Clara Pueblo at Wikipedia
Pueblos of the Rio Grande, Daniel Gibson, ISBN-13:978-1-887896-26-9, Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2001
Upper photo courtesy of Einar Kvaran, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License

About Bowls

The bowl is a basic utilitarian shape, a round container more wide than deep with a rim that is easy to pour or sip from without spilling the contents. A jar, on the other hand, tends to be more tall and less wide with a smaller opening. That makes the jar better for cooking or storage than for eating from. Among the Ancestral Puebloans both shapes were among their most common forms of pottery.

Most folks ate their meals as a broth with beans, squash, corn, whatever else might be in season and whatever meat was available. The whole village (or maybe just the family) might cook in common in a large ceramic jar, then serve the people in their individual bowls.

Bowls were such a central part of life back then that the people of the Classic Mimbres society even buried their dead with their individual bowls placed over their faces, with a "kill hole" in the bottom to let the spirit escape. Those bowls were almost always decorated on the interior (mostly black-on-white, color came into use a couple generations before the collapse of their society and abandonment of the area). They were seldom decorated on the exterior.

It has been conjectured that when the great migrations of the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th centuries were happening, old societal structures had to change and communal feasting grew as a means to meet, greet, mingle with and merge newly arrived immigrants into an already established village. That process called for larger cooking vessels, larger serving vessels and larger eating bowls. It also brought about a convergence of techniques, styles, decorations and design palettes as the people in each locality adapted. Or didn't: the people in the Gallina Highlands were notorious for their refusal to adapt and modernize for several hundred years. They even enforced a No Man's Land between their territory and that of the Great Houses of Chaco Canyon, killing any and all foreign intruders. Eventually, they seem to have merged with the Towa as those people migrated from the Four Corners area to the southern Jemez Mountains.

Traditional bowls lost that societal importance when mass-produced cookware and dishware appeared. But, like most other Native American pottery in the last 150 years, market forces caused them to morph into artwork.

Bowls also have other uses. The Zias and the Santo Domingos are known for their large dough bowls, serving bowls, hair-washing bowls and smaller chili bowls. Historically, these utilitarian bowls have been decorated on their exteriors. More recently, they've been getting decorated on the interior, too.

The bowl has also morphed into other forms, like Marilyn Ray's Friendship Bowls with children, puppies, birds, lizards and turtles playing on and in them. Or Betty Manygoats' bowls encrusted with appliqués of horned toads or Reynaldo Quezada's large, glossy black corrugated bowls with custom ceramic black stands.

When it comes to low-shouldered but wide circumference ceramic pieces (such as many Sikyátki-Revival and Hawikuh-Revival pieces are), are those jars or bowls? Conjecture is that the shape allows two hands to hold the piece securely by the solid body while tipping it up to sip or eat from the narrower opening. That narrower opening, though, is what makes it a jar. The decorations on it indicate that it is more likely a serving vessel than a cooking vessel.

This is where our hindsight gets fuzzy. In the days of Sikyátki, those potters used lignite coal to fire their pieces. That coal made a hotter fire than wood or manure (which wasn't available until the Spanish brought it). That hotter fire required different formulations of temper-to-clay and mineral paints. Those pieces were perhaps more solid and liquid resistant than most modern Hopi pottery is: many Sikyátki pieces survived intact after being slowly buried in the sand and exposed to the desert elements for hundreds of years. Many others were broken but were relatively easy to reassemble as their constituent pieces were found all in one spot and they survived the elements. Today's pottery, made the traditional way, wouldn't survive like that. But that ancient pottery might have been solid enough to be used for cooking purposes, back in the day.

About the Melon Jar

The lives of the various centuries-old pueblo cultures have been based on the cycles of agriculture, specifically the growing and harvesting cycles of the "three sisters": maize, squash and beans. Melon jars are specifically about emulating the different forms of the squash that they cultivated.

Most melon jars are coiled round first, then carved and polished into their final shapes. Helen Shupla (of Santa Clara) perfected a method of forming a melon shape by coiling the jar, smoothing it, then pushing out ribs from the inside. She taught that method to her daughter, Jeannie, and to her Hopi son-in-law, Alton Komalestewa.

After Helen and Jeannie died, Alton got together with Jake Koopee and Jake showed him how he could work the same way using Hopi clay. Jake made three melon jars to show Alton, and they were the only melon jars Jake ever made.

Some Hopi potters still make melon jars and bowls, as do some potters at Jemez, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Ohkay Owingeh and Taos.

Amelia Tafoya Family Tree - Santa Clara Pueblo

Disclaimer: This "family tree" is a best effort on our part to determine who the potters are in this family and arrange them in a generational order. The general information available is questionable so we have tried to show each of these diagrams to living members of each family to get their input and approval, too. This diagram is subject to change should we get better info.

    Amelia Tafoya & Avristo Naranjo