Kachina Doll

North America | Arizona

Kachina Doll

Arizona

Snake Dancer Kachina doll
Carved by Hopi Chief
Wilson Tawaquaptewa, Oraibi (1873-1960)

Carved wood (cottonwood), pigments, fabrics
Circa 1930
Height: 12 ¼ in. (31 cm)

Ex collection Andrew Ellicott Douglass (1867-1962), Tuscon
Thence by family descent
Ex Sotheby’s New York, November 30, 1999, lot 331
Ex private collection, acquired at the above auction

Published: Faces, visible - invisible, April 2021
Tawaquaptewa Snake Dancer Kachina doll 31 cm / Galerie Flak On hold
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.
This doll is the work of a Hopi master carver, Wilson Tawaquaptewa (1873-1960).
Oraibi chief W. Tawaquaptewa was both a prominent a spiritual and political Hopi leader; he is also celebrated as the greatest Hopi kachina doll carver.
A major exhibition of W. Tawaquaptewa's works was notably presented a few years ago at the Birmingham Museum of Art (Alabama, USA).
The color palette on this doll is typical of this artist's works.

This impressive, colorful kachina figure holding a snake in his mouth represents the dramatic Snake Dance of the Hopi people in Arizona
Aby Warburg was the first Western ethnologist to write about a Snake Dance ceremony which took place in 1895 or 1896 when he lived among the Hopi.
A. Warburg observed that during these rituals, priests held rattlesnakes through their teeth in order to transform them into catalysts for storms, dispensers of the beneficent rain.
Subsequently, many ethnologists and collectors became fascinated by this ceremonial cycle. André Breton (who owned a Chusona Snake Dancer Kachina doll in his collection) had the opportunity to attend a Snake Dance in 1945 in Mishongnovi.

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