Paqua Naha, 1st Frogwoman

Also known as the 1st Frogwoman (Paqua means frog), Paqua Naha was a famous potter from the Hopi mesas. She 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 white ware pieces, made with a process she developed and perfected only in the last three years of her life.

Many Hopis left the Hopi mesas in the mid-1850's 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, 2nd 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 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 1/2 in H by 5 1/4 in Dia

Hopi Potters