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Lot 90D: Twin Hopi Crow Mother Katsina Dolls
27 October 2016
Louisville, CO, USALive Auction
Native American, Southwest, northeastern Arizona, Hopi, ca. 20th century CE. A pair of Crow Mother Katsina dolls, depicted in an older style with more geometric headdresses, hand-carved from cottonwood root, hand-painted in traditional colors, and adorned with bird feathers atop their heads, both mounted on a rectangular wooden platform painted with twin mats, one for each Katsina to stand upon. Crow Mother (Angwusnasomtaka) is Mother of the Whipper Katsinam and usually regarded by the Hopi to be the Mother of all Katsinam. She is also regarded as Crow Bride (Angwushahai-i) on Third Mesa, most likely because she comes dressed entirely in white. On the other Mesas she is regarded as Crow Mother. She makes her appearance during the Bean Dance (Powamuya), talking or singing, on all three Mesas. During the Powamuya, Crow Mother supervises the initiation of children into the Katsina Society and presents the yucca whips with which they are struck by the Hu Katsina. Later during this ceremony, Crow Mother leads other Katsinam into the village, carrying a basket of corn kernels and bean sprouts to symbolically begin the fresh growing season. The underside of the rectangular platform of this piece features repeated sprout-like, swimming tadpole motifs (referencing sperm and implying fertility) which symbolize this idea of fruitfulness. A very special example, quite rare to find a matching twin pair sharing a mat. Size: 7" W x 5.125" H (17.8 cm x 13 cm)
The Katsinam, supernatural beings who live in the high mountains of the San Francisco Peaks above traditional Hopi territory, speak to the Hopi through costumed dance and song. These dancers emerge from the round ceremonial kivas that are at the center of their communities, singly or in groups, and dance to the music of drums, rattles, and song. Imitating and representing them are Katsina figures (katsina dolls, katsin-tihu), made of cottonwood root. Cottonwood is culturally symbolic because the cottonwood tree, once abundant in traditional Hopi lands, grows where water flows - thus, looking across a landscape, lines of cottonwood trees denote a water source in the desert. After carving, the figures are painted all over with whitewash, made from kaolin clay, and then painted in brilliant colors. Originally these were done using yucca brushes. Many of them are then decorated with other materials, like feathers, cloth, or fur. Katsina dolls are often given objects to hold which indicate their roles. Kachina dolls are not toys, but are given to young girls, representations of benevolent spirit beings.
Provenance: Ex - Himrod estate, Anaheim, CA
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Condition Report: Loss to front right corner of wooden platform, tips of headdresses, and feathers as shown.