Native American Indian Hopi Mask (SOLD)
Late 19th to Early 20th Century
Anya Kachina Manas
The Mask of Leather, Painted with Pigmented Clay and with a Beard of Human Hair
Height 43 cm (17 in)
The Hopi are descended from Ancient Pueblo People, a major prehistoric tradition dating back over 3000 years in the north of current day Arizona. Although interacting with other tribes nearby they have, in the past, had little to do with so-called civilised cultures; during attempts by the Spanish Missionaries to convert them to Christianity in the 17th Century there was an uprising and the Hopi never again allowed them into their villages.
The name Hopi means 'The Peaceful People'; to be Hopi involves a state of total reverence and respect for all things and to be at peace with them and live in accordance with the instructions of the Creator; the traditional ceremonies are carried out for the benefit of the entire world. The belief in Kachina is central to this and the calender revolves around ritual and ceremony to maintain the balance of the universe. Kachina are powerful beings, the spirits of ancestors and the supernatural essence which inhabits every living thing; if given veneration and respect they can use their power for human good, for example by providing rain, fertility and protection. They also act as go-betweens, carrying messages between man and the Gods.
The Kachina arrive in the villages after the Winter Solstice and remain for six months before returning to the underworld which is not only the place from which the race emerged and individuals return, but also the source of the life-giving crops which are drawn up to grow on the surface at their appointed time according to the cycle of life. Kachinas are symbolised by masked dancers during ceremonies throughout the year and songs are chanted to carry messages to them.
Part of the reason for the stability of the beliefs of the Hopi must be due to their unchanging world in the remoteness of the Grand Canyon. Since the 13th Century when they moved from the banks of the Little Colorado River they have lived at the top of the escarpment on the Colorado Plateau. Their dependence on agriculture in this arid region has contributed to their complex belief system centred around rain making and crop fertility.
Sacred Circles, Two Thousand Years of North American Indian Art pub. Arts Council 1976
Hopi Painting, The World of the Hopis by Patricia Janis Broder . Doll illus. Anya Katchina Manas coll. Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Hopi Kachinas by Clara Lee Tanner pub. Tucson Arizona. Doll illus. p. 17
American Indian Art by Norman Feder pub. Harry N. Abrams New York