Top 10 Books for Learning About Pueblo Art

With a legacy of art spanning centuries, there’s a lot to learn and know about Pueblo art and artists. We at the Indian Pueblo Store have created a recommended reading list of 10 key books for learning about Pueblo art and artists. 

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1. Historic Pottery of the Pueblo Indians 1600–1880 

by Larry Frank and Francis H. Harlow

Pottery Book Thumbnail

Working without the use of the potter's wheel, the Pueblo tribes of the American Southwest created beautiful ceramic ware for both utilitarian and ceremonial use. A classic in the field, this book is the first comprehensive account of historic Pueblo pottery, and results from years of study by Larry Frank, an authority on this and other North American art forms, and lengthy technical research by Francis Harlow, an internationally known scientist.

Illustrating the text are dozens of superb photographs by Bernard Lopez. With nearly 200 examples, the authors appraise the aesthetic value of Pueblo pottery as rivaling that of any ware made by Neolithic societies, whether in America, Europe, the East, or Africa.


2. Hopi Bird and Sun Face in Zuni Jewelry

by Toshio Sei

 Zuni Jewelry Book Thumbnail

Delve into the fascinating origins and contemporary interpretations of Sun Face and Thunderbird/Hopi Bird designs. This thorough study was undertaken to establish the identities of 33 Zuni artists and their interpretations of these traditional designs from the 1940s through the 1960s. Their mosaic stone and shell inlay pins, bracelets, bolo ties, and other ornaments appear in more than 190 color photos that display subtle variations indicative of each master's work and distinctive style. Also introduced are important but forgotten artists, such as Harry Deutsawe and Raphael Homer. Detailed analysis explains the changes and connections among early and recent makers and their individual styles, materials, and designs.

3. Spirit in the Stone: A Handbook of Southwest Indian Animal Carvings and Beliefs 

by Mark Bahti

Zuni Fetish Carving Book Thumbnail

Fetishes have different meanings to different Native peoples. Behind each carving are traditional stories and beliefs. In this new, revised edition of /Spirit in the Stone/, well-known dealer and scholar of Native American art Mark Bahti explores the roles the carvings play, the artists who create them, the history of fetish carvings through the 20th century, the stories about the animals and other objects, as well as the materials favored by carvers.


4. Pueblo Bead Jewelry 

by Paula A. Baxter

Pueblo Jewelry Book Thumbnail

Beads have been made in the prehistoric American Southwest by the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians since time immemorial, and are still made there today. Bead jewelry creations in shell, stone, and silver are important in the Native American jewelry market. This book revisits some leading misconceptions about Pueblo jewelry-making in the existing literature. A survey of modern Pueblo jewelry innovation confirms that its design is unique, and discusses how Pueblo design is mixed with American mid-century modernist expression.

5. Inner Vision: The Sculpture of Michael Naranjo 

by Michael Naranjo

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This book documents the incredible story of renowned sculptor Michael Naranjo of Santa Clara Pueblo, who pursued his dream of becoming a sculptor after he was blinded by a grenade explosion while serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Tracing his career as an artist, Naranjo's book shares personal vignettes and his complete collection of limited-edition bronzes created 1970–2010. Naranjo's story is one of courage and resilience, faithfully documented in this extraordinary book.

With an essay by Ellen Landis, Curator Emerita, The Albuquerque Museum. Introduction by gallery owner Nedra Matteucci. Forward by U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Afterword by Shelley Sturman, Head of Object Conservation, National Gallery of Art. 

6. Margaret Tafoya: A Tewa Potter’s Heritage and Legacy

by Marry Ellen and Laurence Blair

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This beautiful book presents in large format the story of Margaret Tafoya's paramount place in the evolution of Tewa Pueblo pottery in Santa Clara, New Mexico. This monumental work is divided into four major sections examining a history of the Pueblo people, Margaret Tafoya's life, Santa Clara pottery-making techniques, and the Tafoya family and descendants.

Margaret Tafoya (1904–2001) is considered the matriarch of Santa Clara Pueblo pottery, and is known around the world for her elegantly polished redware and blackware. She used all traditional methods in creating her pots, first digging clay on Santa Clara lands in the same place where her ancestors dug clay, then constructing and polishing by hand. Along with Maria Martinez and Lucy M. Lewis, she is one of the legends of modern Pueblo pottery.


7. Life and Art of Tony Da 

by Charles S. King and Richard L. Spivey

Tony Da book thumbndail

This book takes an intimate look into the life of Pueblo potter and painter Tony Da, who was both an innovative artist and a deeply private individual during the height of his career (1960s–1970s). This intimate portrayal brings the reader into the innovative and volatile world of Tony Da, son of the well-known Popovi Da, and grandson of legendary potter Maria Martinez.

8. Awa Tsireh: Pueblo Painter and Metalsmith 

by Diana F. Pardue and Norman Sandfield

Awa Tsireh book thumbnail

Alfonso Roybal, better known as Awa Tsireh (Cat Tail Bird in the Tewa language), was born in the small Pueblo of San Ildefonso, New Mexico in 1898. He became arguably the finest Native American painter of the first half of the 20th century. To date, the authors have documented more than 400 of Awa Tsireh’s paintings in numerous private collections, and more than 30 museums.

Diana F. Pardue is curator of collections at the Heard Museum, where her work has included historic and contemporary Native American arts. Norman L. Sandfield is an internationally known collector and antique dealer in Chicago, and this is his third book and exhibition in collaboration with the Heard Museum.


9. The Pottery of Santa Ana Pueblo 

by Francis H. Harlow, Duane Anderson, and Dwight P. Lanmon

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This book takes the reader on a wonderful journey through the small village of Santa Ana Pueblo in north-central New Mexico, where distinctive pottery has been made for centuries for domestic and ritual use. In this book published by the Museum of New Mexico Press, the authors relate new ideas about the evolution of pottery styles made at Santa Ana and compare these styles with those found elsewhere in the Pueblo ceramic tradition. In particular, this richly visual study describes the chronological sequence of forms and designs based on evidence not heretofore available.


10. Southern Pueblo Pottery: 2,000 Artist Biographies

by Gregory Schaaf

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This comprehensive volume covers the period circa 1800 to the present, and includes the pottery of Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Pecos, Laguna, Sandia, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Santo Domingo, Tigua/Isleta del Sur, Zia, and Zuni Pueblos. This is a guide to Pueblo pottery designed specifically for the collector, and consists primarily of artist biographies paired with photographic examples of the potters' works. The artist biographies provide birth dates (when known), information about family lineage, awards won by the potters and titles of other publications in which the artists' works have appeared. From Dr. Gregory Schaaf's American Indian Arts Series, this book is an essential resource for Native American pottery collectors.

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1 comment

  • I am drawn to the Native people and their art. I love learning more about them.

    Jean Barbieri

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