Maria Poveka Martinez (1887-1980)

When most anyone first inquires about Pueblo Indian Pottery, the name most often mentioned is "Maria." Maria and her husband Julian in 1918 "re-rediscovered" the process of producing the highly polished black pottery as a collectible art form of the San Ildefonso Indians. Over the next 60 years until her death in 1980 at the age of zz, her methods and her art were passed on both to their family members and to friends in other Pueblos of the Rio Grande Valley. Today there are tens of Indian pottery artists who are being collected for their fine pieces of art by collectors, corporations, and museums around the world.

Throughout the years of her life, Maria collaborated: with her husband, Julian; with her son, Papovi Da; with her daughter-in-law, Santana; and with her grandson, Tony Da; in producing the finest pieces of collectible pottery ever seen. When Maria worked alone, her works were highly polished pieces which appeared either as a shiny gun-metal black or a brilliant silver sheen, depending on how you looked at them. They were free of all polishing marks, a remarkable feat considering that she always did the polishing by hand with polishing stones.

Maria's works that contained the black-on-black matte designs--the feather design being the most popular--were produced in collaboration with Julian (d.1943), Santana, or other members of her family. Those pieces are much more common because collectors were pleased with that additional artistry.

Today, Maria's pottery is a highly prized collectible. One can still find pieces for sale, but the prices will fall in the range of a few to many thousands of dollars, depending upon the size, the quality, the design, and the signature.

There are many books written about Maria; one of the most frequently cited is: Maria: The Potter of San Ildefonso, by Alice Marriott, University of Oklahoma Press (1948).

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