Charlene's Collection

I live in California.  I've been doing some work around my house, and in the process of digging, I've found several stones that I call "potato rocks."  They are not native to this area.  They are "river rocks."  There are grinding stones next to a creek near my house, so I assume that these stones were used by Native Californians as manos.  I've been trying to find out about the use of stones by Native
Americans to confirm my suspicions.

(pictures are below story)

 The rocks in these photos were all found near my house while digging. Some were found during the digging of my ponds a few years ago. The rest were found recently during excavation of footing trenches and other digging for the additions to my house. 

I call them "potato rocks" because the first few I found were relatively the size and shape of potatoes. Some are actually round like balls, some are flatter, like fat potato pancakes. 

The first ones I found, I was convinced, were used as pestles by Native American women while making food. There are grinding stones by a creek very close to my house, so I know that Native Americans lived here. There is even one small grinding hole in a large rock on my property, which I discovered a few years ago. 

These rocks are not native to this area. They are more like river rocks--smoothed and rounded by tumbling in a river. Most are relatively smooth. Some are rough all around. Some are rough or pitted on the edges. They are all small enough to be held in one hand. It is easy to imagine a Native American woman holding them and using them for various purposes. I have some education about Native Americans, but not lots. If anyone can add to my knowledge about the use of rocks by the local Native Americans, I would appreciate it. I have learned, recently, that these kind of hand-held utensils used for grinding are called “manos.” I have also learned that Native Americans would sometimes shape them to their purposes by different methods. So, apparently, they were not necessarily found by the Native Americans in the shapes in which they appear now. 

After washing one of the rocks I found recently, I noticed that it was covered with little sparkles. It made me wonder if it was picked for it's beauty as well as for it's function. Then I wondered if the women would travel to the river and choose rocks for their work. Would they choose not only for size and shape, but also for color and beauty? Did they travel with their rocks? (Another thing I’ve learned is that apparently they did travel with their stones.) Did they each keep their own rocks? Were they a statement about taste and individuality as well as being functional?

I held the sparkle-rock in my hand, wanting to feel whatever vibrations it held. Wanting to know the woman who chose it and held it. Wanting to know what the rock knows. Where it's from, where it's been, who has held it, how it was used. How it became abandoned, then found again by a woman who noticed it's difference, saved it, washed it carefully, and treasures it. Would others have tossed the “potato rocks” into piles with other rocks and dirt as they excavated, not noticing that they are special? The stone gave me only vague feelings, keeping most of its secrets in it's unknown, dark, quiet interior. 

I will continue to search for information about these special stones. And continue to share their beauty with any who are interested, hoping they, too, will enjoy their beauty and wonder at their mystery.

Charlene Hensley 

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grinding hole 003.jpg grinding hole 004.jpg handmadetool 001.jpg handmadetool 005.jpg handmadetool 006.jpg handmadetool 007.jpg handmadetool 008.jpg
handmadetool 009.jpg handmadetool 011.jpg Manos 002.jpg Manos 003.jpg Manos 005.jpg manos series I 001.jpg manos series I 002.jpg
manos series I 004.jpg manos series I 005.jpg manos, etc. 001.jpg manos, etc. 002.jpg manos, etc. 003.jpg manos, etc. 004.jpg manos, etc. 005.jpg
manos, etc. 006.jpg manos, etc. 007.jpg manos, etc. 008.jpg manos, etc. 009.jpg manos, etc. 010.jpg manos, etc. 011 (2).jpg manos008.jpg
manos008B.jpg manos010.jpg manos010a.jpg manos011.jpg manos011a.jpg manos011b.jpg manos20.jpg
manos20a.jpg manos21.jpg manos21a.jpg manos22.jpg manos22b.jpg manos23.jpg manos23a.jpg
manos23b.jpg manos24.jpg manos24a.jpg manos25.jpg manos25a.jpg potato rocks and pyrite rocks 003.jpg potatorocks 005.jpg