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NAVAJO GIRAFFE AND RIDER MUD TOY circa 2010


When you think of Navajo pottery, you think of a century or more of resin-coated brownware, at first roughly made in utilitarian shapes and more recently done with a high level of refinement. During all those years, however, Navajo artists also made mud toys—little animals and figures made with a large dose of affection and humor. These were truly made as toys, never fired, just baked in the sun. The books now talk about mud toys as serious folk art, but it's hard to keep a straight face when we encounter a traditional Navajo riding a giraffe.

     We put this on page 123 of the Second Edition of Southwestern Pottery without an attribution and dated it at 2010 based on when we bought it. Then we looked at a biographical sheet on the great Mamie Deschillie (1920–2010) that said that "her more fanciful animals include giraffes (often ridden by cowboys) as well as elephants, buffaloes, zebras and rhinoceroses." As the owners of a Mamie Deschillie elephant, that seemed to be all we needed to know, and we attributed this to Mamie on the site and pushed its date back to a more plausible 1995 considering her age and its careful painting. Then a sharp-eyed collector pointed out that Mamie Deschille cowboys had noses, while those made by the Benally family didn't and sent us a picture of a no-nosed Benally cowboy riding a giraffe.          

     End of discussion. This is probably by a member of the Benally family, but we're not sure of anything any more.  


4" long x 2-3/8" wide x 4-5/8" high


Condition excellent  


S-609   $125