Storyteller Dolls

by 5th Graders, Art Teacher Mrs. Ivette Burgess

March, 1996

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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 or Prof. O'Haver at
This page was first created on March 10,1996
Last updated March 18, 1996