Pahlik Mana Katsina – Butterfly Maiden kachina doll
Cottonwood, pigments and feathers
Height: 15 ½ in. (39 cm)
Ex Arrowsmith’s, Prescott, Arizona
Ex collection Paul Peralta-Ramos (1931-2003), Taos, USA
Ex Sotheby’s New York, 24 June 2004 lot 119
(André Breton, Le Littéraire, 1946)
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.
In the Hopi pantheon, Pahlik Mana is known as the Butterfly Maiden or the Corn-Grinding Maiden.
This female kachina figure appears at various times during the Hopi ceremonial year. Her performances are colorful dances who are seen as prayers for rain and bountiful harvests.
Alph H. Secakuku notes in “Hopi Kachina Tradition: Following the Sun & Moon” that when Pahlik Mana appears, certain key Kiva members must fast and abstain from contact with the opposite sex. The fasting achieves spiritual concentration and dedication through self-purification of the mind and spirit.
The Butterfly Maiden is one of the most spectacular Hopi kachinas with a large and elaborate tableta (crown-like element) on top of her head, as well as her superb iconography and symbolism.
Regarding the provenance of this kachina doll, it formerly belonged to Paul Peralta-Ramos (1931-2003). Peralta-Ramos was a prominent collector and patron of the arts in Taos. He notably founded the Milicent Rodgers Museum in 1956 as a memorial to his mother, Millicent Rogers (1902-1953), and to showcase the arts and cultures of the Southwest that fascinated them both. After the museum opened in 1956, Peralta-Ramos devoted himself to building a premier collection of arts of the Southwest, including important katsinam such as the one presented here.