Paqua Naha, First Frogwoman


Also known as First Frogwoman (Paqua means frog), Paqua Naha was a famous potter from the Hopi mesas. From my genealogical research it looks like Paqua was the daughter of Tsun Sayah of the Kachina-Parrot Clan. In those days, the potters and their daughters and granddaughters all worked together, learning from each other, as they made the pottery their people needed in their everyday lives. Then Nampeyo's success caused them to turn their pottery more into artwork.

Paqua was born around 1890 and passed on in 1955. She produced pottery using different colors for the body: white, red and yellow, with black and red decorations. Her favorite designs seem to have been feathers, birds, rain, water and Zuni style scrolls. She's most famous for her whiteware pieces, made with a process she developed and perfected only in the last few years of her life.

Many Hopis left the Hopi mesas in the mid-1850s to escape an outbreak of smallpox. They went to Zuni and stayed for several years. Zuni potters, at the time, were using a white slip over their pottery and some of the Hopi potters picked that up. However, when they returned to Hopi a few years later, Hopi white clay didn't perform the same: when a white slipped piece was being fired, the base clay of the body of the piece expanded more than the white slip and the surface of the finished piece would show cracks all over. Paqua sorted out how to fix that and taught her daughters, but then she died only a couple years later.

Joy Navasie, Second Frogwoman, was her daughter. Helen Naha (the original Featherwoman) was Paqua's daughter-in-law. Both Joy and Paqua signed the bottom faces of their works with a frog image. However, Paqua's frog has straight, square lines whereas Joy's frog has webbed toes.

Black geometric design around the rim of a red ware ashtray
Red ware ashtray decorated with a black geometric design around the rim
1.5 in H by 5.25 in Dia
Geometric design on a polychrome bowl A polychrome bowl with a geometric design
3 in H by 9.25 in Dia
Bird element and geometric design on a miniature polychrome jar A miniature polychrome jar decorated with a bird element and geometric design
1.75 in H by 2.75 in Dia
4-panel geometric design on a miniature polychrome jar Miniature polychrome jar with a 4-panel geometric design
3.25 in H by 2.75 in Dia
A pair of polychrome candlestick holders decorated with bands of geometric designs
Polychrome candlestick holders decorated with bands of geometric designs
5.5 in H by 3.25 in Dia
Measurement of larger piece

Hopi Potters