Temporary Exhibit Spotlight

Stories in Clay; The Pueblo Storyteller

Storytelling is a Native American tradition going back centuries as a way of instilling a tribe’s history, lessons, cultural values and beliefs in the younger generation. Potter Helen Cordero of the Cochiti Pueblo crafted the first storyteller doll in 1963. She created the doll to represent her grandfather, Santiago Quintana, telling stories to his grandchildren.

Through her Storytellers Helen revived the tradition of Cochiti figurative pottery creating a new market for prize-winning and collectable pueblo pottery. Today, Storyteller Dolls are made to represent male, female (called Singing Mothers) or animal figures. The doll is typically “joined” by one or many (some have over 400!) children listening. Most Storyteller dolls are shaped with open mouths depicting them telling a story and many of the children are holding items considered important to their Pueblo, such as drums, watermelons or pottery.

The Storytellers and Singing Mothers were donated by Sidney and Marge Goldman. The IAIS Museum is grateful for this important addition to our collection.