North America

Kachina Doll

Hopi
Arizona, USA

Chöf Katsina
Antelope Kachina doll

Carved wood (cottonwood) and natural pigments
Circa 1900-1910
Height: 13 in. (33 cm)

Ex collection of Whistler Family – Sauk & Fox Reserve, Oklahoma, USA
Ex private collection, Colorado
Price: on request

America - Southwest
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Kachina dolls (or katsinam) represent spirits or gods from the pantheon of the Pueblo peoples in the American Southwest. Given to children, kachina dolls constituted a pedagogical tool allowing them to familiarize themselves with the spiritual world and perpetuating knowledge of the founding myths on which their society was based.

The Hopi name of this Kachina spirit is Chöp (sometimes spelled Chof of Tchub).
A member of the family of Animal katsinam, Chöp appeared during ceremonial dances on the plaza to ensure good health and the abundance of game animals. His dance was a prayer for rain; the Antelope spirit is also said to enable the grass to grow and help cure spasms. The Chöp dancer usually carried a pole that acted as the animal's fore legs, enabling him to make sensitive impersonations of the antelope's movements.
The style of this kachina is reminiscent of the corpus of “Volz”-type kachinas: Frederick Volz (1856-1913) owned a trading post in a Hopi village. In 1901, he acted as a buyer for the entrepreneur Fred Harvey, collecting nearly 400 kachinas. Major American museums (The Field Museum, The New York Museum of Natural History, The University of Pennsylvania Museum, etc.) would subsequently seek to acquire examples of these “Volz” kachinas.

Regarding the Whistler family provenance: the great grandfather had a small retail store on the reservation. He kept his collection of 19th century Native American art collectables in a small cabinet in the store. The grandfather passed the Kachina down through his family and it was eventually his great granddaughter who sold it.