Hopi, Arizona, USA
Carved wood (cottonwood root), pigments and feathers
H. 17 cm
- Collection Madame Thery-Atchevinsky
- Sale Neret Minet, Paris, March 26, 2003, lot 54
- French private collection, acquired at the above sale
Carved from the soft wood of a cottonwood root (Populus fremontii, the American poplar), this superb Kachina figure is painted with pigments applied on a lime background and decorated with feathers, wool and fabric. Its proportions (short legs, broad shoulders and large mask) are characteristic of Kachina dolls sculpted at the end of the 19th or the very beginning of the 20th century.
The face, with its turquoise and black dominance, has an inverted V-shaped motif in its center. The eyes are represented by clear horizontal bands and the nose is tubular.
The visor carved in relief on the forehead is decorated with blue and pink cruciform motifs. The back of the mask is covered with a piece of painted fabric. The boots are red (the end of the left foot is missing). The painted depiction of a light blue beaded necklace is visible on the torso while the sash - the traditional dance belt - is finely depicted on the right side of the kilt.
This doll is an ancient representation of the Kachina spirit Qoi'a (sometimes spelled Kaua or Quoia). This Kachina spirit, during his ceremonial appearances, sings in the Navajo language. The Kachina Qoi'a is described and illustrated as early as 1903 in the book Hopi Katcinas, drawn by native artists by Walter J. Fewkes (plate XXXIV, Smithsonian Institution).
This Kachina Qoi'a (as well as the one that gradually replaced it from the 1920s onwards, the Kachina Tasap) is one of the Hopi's favorites. Indeed, the latter believe that its dance makes it possible to attract good fortune to the entire village and to capture part of the warlike power of the Navajo neighbors.
This spectacular Kachina is imbued with dreaminess and power.