The collections at Casa San Ysidro include everyday utilitarian goods (such as tools and furniture) as well as devotional art.
Tin Frame with Print of San Ysidro
In la Sala Grande, Casa's patron saint, San Ysidro Labrador, is prominently displayed.
Handcrafted from recycled tin cans, the frame is actually a rare processional piece that would have been used to carry the saint's image through the village fields to bless the crops and insure seasonal rain.
The large bowl on the chest below is from Zia Pueblo and dates to ca. 1880.
Cruz de Animas (Cross of Souls)
This painted wood cross came from Mexico and was a popular item on home altars during the 19th Century.
Originally, there would have been carved or cast figures of Adam and Eve at the base of the cross; over the years these figures have been lost. The painting on the cross depicts Christ surrounded by the symbols of the Passion; the base of the cross shows unredeemed souls in Hell.
Straw Applique Cross
The art of straw applique—the technique of decorating the surface of wooden objects with bits of cut straw or corn husks—has been practiced both by New Mexican Hispanics and Native Americans since the early 1700s.
This blackened cross embellished with pieces of "poor man's gold," is an example of the most common use of this technique, but straw applique is also found decorating boxes, chests, candle sconces and other items that artists wanted to beautify.
Balance Beam Treadle Loom
Weaving was an important commercial and domestic activity in New Mexico throughout the Spanish Colonial Period and well into the Territorial era.
Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1598 neither wool nor the treadle loom was known in this region. This loom dates to approximately 1775 and is made of rough, hand axed logs notched together.
Skilled and patient weavers were capable of creating an extraordinary range of textiles on this heavy and clumsy looking loom. The weavings hanging in the background show a small sample of the weaver's art.
Manos and Metates
Manos and metates were the basic grinding tools of the Southwest.
The daily chore of grinding corn to make tortillas was the responsibility of the women of the household. Then as now, women took pride in their skill, and in the rapidity with which they could produce the family's daily bread.
When a household possessed several manos and metates, they were set up in a row, graded from a course surfaced metate at one end of the line to a fine surfaced one at the other.
This extraordinary chair, which dates from the early 18th century, was collected from Taos Pueblo.
Its form is based on 16th and 17th century Spanish prototypes which had leather backs and seats attached to the wooden framework by large, decorative nails.
In this chair, the leather or rawhide strip across the back rail is ornamental rather than functional. The painted decoration of dots may have been meant to imitate the rows of nails found on Spanish examples.
Chairs such as this one would have been strictly reserved for the use of the head of the household or important visitors.