North America

An exceptional owl kachina doll

Hopi, Arizona, USA

Mongwu Katsina

Carved cottonwood, hide, natural pigments

Circa 1880
Height : 8 ¾ in. (22 cm)

Ex collection George Terasaki, New York,
acquired in the 1960s

Published in Classic Hopi and Zuni Kachina figures,
Barton Wright, Andrea Portago,
Museum of New Mexico Press, 2006

Published in Kachina, George Terasaki Collection, 2008, pl. 5

Illustrated in : Mémoires d’une poupée Kachina, Editions Makassar – L’Enfance de l’Art, 2018

Price: on request

America - Southwest
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This doll represents Mongwu, or the Owl kachina spirit. Birds have always played a central role in Hopi ceremonies. According to Hopi mythology, at the beginning of the world, birds gave the first men the key to certain universal mysteries, allowing them to emerge from the Underworld. Birds continue to play the role of counselors for humans, interceding for them with spirits and divinities. Finally, birds are associated with the worship of water: by remaining close to birds and observing them, the Hopi are assured of locating sources of water, and thus of protecting themselves
from drought.
The Owl kachina incarnates justice and wisdom. It plays the role of the keeper of order in ceremonies, especially against clown kachinas. The latter indeed often try to upset the sequence of dances by provoking other dancers or by distracting the attention of the spectators.
Eminently poetic and touching, this kachina doll with its wide-open eyes – symbol of knowledge – wears a bow and quiver strung across its chest.
This exceptional 1880s figure belonged to George Terasaki (1931-2010), a passionate collector and outstanding dealer, who kept it in his collection from the 1960s until the end of his life.