Hopi Kachina, ca. 1850
I know that it's been in my family since sometime in the 1800s and that it was my great-great-grandfather who came out to this part of the world from the East Coast. He worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and sent home a number of artifacts. And this one was in our living room all the time I was growing up, and then she gave it to me and we moved out here to Albuquerque, so I think it's come closer to home. I only know that nobody in the family, you know, went out and bought it last week or anything. It did... it has been around.
How far back can you trace it?
Well, my aunt's letters said McKinley's administration, but I don't know. She was not 100% sure of that. But this was a great-great-grandfather of mine and I'm 72. (chuckling): So it goes back a way.
Right. And do you have any idea what it is?
Well, I call it a kachina, and I call it a wall kachina, but no, I don't.
Okay. Well, you're quite right, it is a kachina, and it's very exciting to have it because it's the earliest type of kachina. I mean most of the kachinas you see are articulated, they're standing and they're three-dimensional. They start in the middle of the 19th century, about 1850. So this one is probably around about that time. It's a Hopi kachina, made by the Hopi tribe. The kachinas were made by males in the tribe and they were given to the young girls, who would learn about the pantheon of gods and the mythology in their society. They're made out of cottonwood. It's smoothed with a sandstone and then the irregularities are filled in with white kaolin. And the pigment is the natural mineral pigments that are around. The headdress on the top, this is called a tableta. And this is the cloud tableta. You see the clouds here on the top. When the young ladies had finished with it, they were hung on the wall of the kiva, hence the sort of flat-backed ones. It's exciting to have one of these early ones here. I think a good conservative figure, a retail figure for this would be about $12,000 to $15,000.
I told my family I would practice my wows, but I'm not going to say wow. I am impressed, though.
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