Nicolasa Naranjo (Santa Clara, 1907-2002) Painted Blackware Wedding Vase, slithering Avanyu design

p4A ItemID F7947158
Maria and Julian Martinez (San Ildefonso, 1887-1980 / 1995-1943) Blackware Pottery Jar, large and elegant form with gunmetal finish, the body is painted with angled geometrics on neck and Avanyu

p4A ItemID F7935231
Margaret Tafoya (Santa Clara, 1904-2001), Monumental Carved Blackware Pottery Jar, impressive size, having a wide band carved with two, complicated Avanyu figures

p4A ItemID F7929033
A Pueblo Painted Buffalo Hide Shield with Cover

p4A ItemID F7928106

Avanyu the Water Serpent

Avanyu (sometimes Awanyu) is a deity of the Tewa people. The Tewa are Pueblo Native Americans who share the Tewa language and live around the Rio Grande River north of Santa Fe, New Mexico among the pueblo communities of Nambé,
Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan), Santa Clara, and Tesuque. San Ildefonso and Santa Clara are in particular known for their pottery, which often has depictions of Avanyu.

Maria Martinez San Ildefonso blackware bowl, with decoration of Avanyu slithering along shoulder. (p4A item # E8947389)

Avanyu is the guardian of water and represents how important water is to the native peoples of the desert, with the flowing movement of its body suggesting the flow of water and the zigzag of the tongue symbolizing lightning. The serpent, often depicted with plumes or horns, appears in cave drawings in New Mexico and Arizona and remains a common decorative motif on the pottery of a number of Southwestern tribal potters. It’s been suggested that Avanyu might be related to Quetzalcoatl and other feathered serpent gods from Mesoamerican cultures.

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