by 5th Graders, Art Teacher Mrs. Ivette Burgess
Brief History of Storytellers
Pottery and clay have been a part of the SW Indian culture for hundreds of years. Clay
is considered a living substance and it is not unsual for some potters to offer
prayers or cornmeal as they gather Mother Clay.
Helen Cordero, born in 1915 to the Cochiti pueblo, was no stranger to this art
form. In the 1950s she started creating female clay figures holding children. She
called these clay figures, "Singing Mother". They became quite popular and many
Cochiti potters started making them.
In 1964, Helen Cordero modified her original idea and made an open mouth male
figure, her grandfather- Santiago Quintana, with five children clinging to him while he told them
stories. Helen used a male figure because she felt that the true storytellers were
males and that female figures should be called "Singing Mothers".
As time went on, more and more people stated making storytellers and adapted their
own ideas and beliefs based upon their particular tribe. Today the term "storyteller"
is a generic term and is used to describe any figure, (female, clown, animal, male,
spirit) that is covered by children or baby animals. Interest in Storytellers
has grown and today the ones made by various Pueblo tribes of the SW are hard to
come by and costly.
Index of Student Work
How We Did This Project
Bibliography of Storytellers
Other Storyteller Sites
This page is maintained by Mary O'Haver, Fairland
Elementary School, and Prof. Thomas O'Haver , University of Maryland. Comments, suggestions and questions should be directed to Mary O'Haver at firstname.lastname@example.org or Prof. O'Haver at email@example.com.
This page was first created on March 10,1996
Last updated March 18, 1996