Gazette Drouot logo print
Lot n° 38

Exceptional archaic Kachina Hopi, Arizona Carved...

Estimate :
Subscribers only

Exceptional archaic Kachina Hopi, Arizona Carved wood (cottonwood root), natural pigments Circa 1900 H. 52 cm An exceptional, early Katsina doll, Hopi, Arizona H. 20 ½ in Provenance: - Ex collection Merton D. Simpson, New York - Ex Elaine Lustig Cohen collection (1927-2016), New York - Acquired from previous owner on May 5, 1964 - Ex collection Galerie Flak, Paris - Ex private European collection, acquired from previous owners in 2018 For hundreds of years, atop the mesas, the flat mountains of Arizona, masked and costumed dancers have come to pray for rain and germination. They represent the kachina spirits or "katsinam", a word meaning both wooden statuette, masked dancer or deity. At the end of ceremonies, dancers offer village children dolls carved in their image. The child who received the doll kept it as a precious souvenir of the dance, and hung it on the wall of his or her home as a sign of protection. There are some 450 different kachina spirits in the Hopi pantheon. Each is characterized by specific colors, symbols, songs and functions. A celebration of flora and fauna, a call to fertility and the clemency of the elements, but also a mirror of society with its warriors, clowns and censors, the world of kachinas has fascinated ethnologists, collectors and artists for over a century. Carved from the root of cottonwood, an American poplar, this very large Kachina doll features proportions characteristic of works dating from the late 19th century or the early years of the 20th: a face occupying around a third of the total height of the composition, a broad torso and short legs. The face is surmounted by a tabletta, a stepped element in the shape of a crown. The cutout of the tabletta echoes the shape of the "sky stairs" representing rainwater falling from the clouds. The eyes protrude and the shape of the mouth evokes the representation of an amphibian. It is not easy to assign a precise identification to the figure presented here. It is likely to be a Katsina Hisat (kachina from ancient times), i.e. a spirit who has not danced for decades and whose memory has not been preserved, possibly a kachina spirit linked to the Water Clan. In terms of provenance, this sculpture, acquired from the leading New York dealer Merton D. Simpson on May 5, 1964, was part of the collection of Elaine Lustig Cohen (1927-2016), a renowned New York designer and artist. Elaine Lustig Cohen and her husband Arthur Cohen had assembled an exceptional collection of art from outside Europe (and North America in particular) from the 1950s-1960s. This giant kachina is distinguished by its archaism, poetry and evocative power.

Auction's title
Auction's date
Auction location