Starting in the late 1880s the Santa Fe Railroad opened the American Southwest to the delights of tourism. Many travelers, passing through the alien landscape, sought to bring home a momento from the local indians selling wares at the rail stops in Albuquerque, Gallup, or Flagstaff. The Indians of the Southwest made beautiful blankets, baskets and pottery. These handicrafts are now cherished antiques, but we know only two pairs of early bookends that portray the Indians of the Southwest.
The first set of bookends shows a man painting a large olla. Historically, in the southwest, the pots were made by the women and painted by men. The sculptor of this bookend may have been thinking of today’s highly collectible Maria and Julian Martinez of San Ildefonso Pueblo in New Mexico, whose polychrome pottery of the 1910s and early 20s is very valuable today. Check out this YouTube video from the Medicine Man Gallery.
The other pair shows an Indian in profile, with a bandana tied around his head, a familiar image in photos of Navajo, Apache, and Pueblo Indians of the Southwest.