Hopi jar, migration design, Tonita Hamilton (Nampeyo), one of Fannie’s seven children. (Born 1934.)

In May 1981, I had won a bet with Mom by correctly guessing that Tonita had made a similar, larger, pot for sale at the Case Trading Post (Wheelwright Museum). If wrong, I owed Mom supper; if right, she owed me the pot. She was willing to pay up. I refused the prize given the (then) huge price of about $900. We argued in the store about buying the pot, with Mom saying, “Don’t be such a grouch. I may never be here again with you to have the opportunity to buy such a pot.” (True words.) After we fought and I won (no pot), the Tonita pot was purchased by a man who liked it, but had no idea what he was buying. During the summer of 1982, as she was dying, Mom made me promise that I would go back to Santa Fe and buy a Tonita pot. For a similar Tonita pot, see Adobe Gallery (1983:4, #8). Compare this Tonita pot with a pot of the same design by Priscilla Namingha (Nampeyo), 1991-05.

On May 22, 1994, I had a chance to visit Tonita in her home in Tewa Village. Her home occupies the site of “Old Lady” Nampeyo’s home, which was torn down and rebuilt as the Corn Clan home in the 1966 or 1967. The family did not take pictures of “Old Lady’s” home, but Tonita assured me that the sacred elements of the old Corn Clan home had been reincorporated into the new structure. When a neighboring kiva had been extended into the “front yard” of the Nampeyo home, the remains of numerous pot-firing fires had been dug up, in addition to many fragments of pottery shards used to protect new pottery in the firing. Two very small “greenware” (unfinished) pots had also been uncovered, apparently offerings to the kiln fired made by the “Old Lady,” as was the ritual custom. Tonita says “the most important thing (is) to keep…traditional methods and designs…alive,” quoted by Dillingham (1994:19). See also, the Blairs (1999:231-234).

For an incised jar by Tonita’s son, Loren Hamilton, that varies considerably from traditional design, see 2010-28.

Purchase History:
Purchased in August 1983, at the request of my Mother, from the potter at Indian Market.