Help with Kachinas

Discussion in 'Tribal Art' started by trip98, Feb 13, 2016.

  1. trip98

    trip98 Well-Known Member

    Working on a lot of old style or traditional carved Kachinas circa 1990s. I was able to track the artist DSC_0072.JPG marks fairly easily, but confused on actual names of the dolls. The one with the big headdress I believe is Hemis. Thanks for your input.

    Photo two, first one is a rattle.
    Photo 3 DSC_0071.JPG
    cxgirl likes this.
  2. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    nice collection...i like that gourd head rattle !!!
  3. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

    Since nobody has added to this in the past month I thought I would include some links. Perhaps you have seen these before. I noticed these are all from selling companies so I don't know how authoritative they are:

    I was trying to pick only the ones with photos. Here is another:
    trip98 likes this.
  4. Taupou

    Taupou Well-Known Member

    I can help identify a few of the dolls pictured, but first, feel I need to address the links provided above. Figtree, you were right in perhaps questioning how authoritative they are. It's hard to find good web sites about kachina dolls. Most are compilations of bits and pieces of misinformation found on other sites. These, unfortunately, are no exception.

    Whenever a site makes statements such as "the Navajo, Zuni and Hopi, made Kachina dolls for use in religious ceremonies," or that kachina dolls are "prayed to by Native Americans," or calls an Apache rain dancer a "kachina doll," it immediately sends up signals that the site has no credibility. All those statements are completely false, and found on those links.

    The Hopi and Zuni are the only tribes that carve kachina dolls for sale. Kachinas are a part of the culture/religion of the Hopi, Zuni, Acoma, and Laguna Pueblos. No other tribe has kachinas in their culture. Not the Navajo, or Apache, or Cherokee. None. The Navajo carve figures that sellers on eBay (and elsewhere) sell as "Navajo kachina dolls," but there really is no such thing. (Most Navajos, in fact, sell their carvings simply as "dolls" or "carvings," if you buy directly from the maker.)

    The only authentic kachina dolls are carved by Hopi or Zuni carvers. They originally were made not to "worship," but to teach. There are 300-500 different kachinas, each with their own distinctive look and characteristics. The carvings were made as gifts for Hopi children, to teach them to recognize the different kachinas when they saw them in dances and ceremonies. By the early 1900s, collectors discovered them, and some carvers started making them for sale (a practice still frowned upon by conservative members of the community, however.)

    The Navajo, since they have no kachinas in their religion, "borrowed" the idea, and became "creative" in their carvings, resulting in many figures that have no relation whatsoever to what the actual kachinas look like. They can be considered a type of folk art, perhaps (and the Navajo do have a rich tradition of carved folk art figures from their own culture), and some carvers do copy designs from published photos of Hopi kachina dolls, but, to quote a different web site: "When you see Navajo kachinas or Mexican kachinas, those are imitations of the real Hopi kachinas, just as much so as kachinas made by white people or imported from Korea are."

    Rather than wasting time on line, hoping to find a reliable reference, I'd recommend the book Hopi Kachina Dolls, With a Key to Their Identification, by Harold S. Colton, as a start.
  5. gregsglass

    gregsglass Well-Known Member

    Just wanted to add. In 1947 we had an art teacher come in our class and had us make kachina dolls. I never heard of them before and it started me to research about them even that far back.
  6. Taupou

    Taupou Well-Known Member

    Sorry if the above post ran long. This topic obviously hit a sensitive chord, for me, as I've had a long association with Hopi artists, (but also collect Navajo folk art.)

    I don't want to imply that one shouldn't buy Navajo carvings. Only that those "Navajo Kachina dolls" found on eBay are no more "authentic" than the "Northwest Coast First Nations" masks carved in Indonesia.

    And yes, there are books out on how to carve kachina dolls, complete with patterns. And they are popular items at wood carvers shows, where the carvers are not Native American. And maybe somewhere out there is a kachina doll made in Greg's art class!
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  7. gregsglass

    gregsglass Well-Known Member

    Hi Taupou,
    Ours were paper glued with white paste. I would be surprised if any of them lasted more than a week. I just thought it was strange that someone knew what they were back in the back woods of Western Penn that long ago.
    Taupou likes this.
  8. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

    Oh, good -- I was hoping that you (or somebody else who knows something) would comment. My post was really mostly for bumping purposes, as it seemed that somebody could address this and it had been sitting for a month. I'm also glad that the links I posted didn't do any harm. I hesitated before posting them, but maybe not look enough. Thank you, Taupou.
    Mill Cove Treasures and Taupou like this.
  9. Taupou

    Taupou Well-Known Member

    Trip98, what is the name of the artist, if I may ask?

    First photo, figure to left, with the big tableta, depicts Sio Hemis (Zuni Hemis.)

    First photo, figure on far right, has the round mask with blue, yellow, and white spots, and is barefoot, both characteristic of Kokosori, but he should also have red spots, and the spots should be over his entire body, not just his head. Plus he shouldn't have the black and white circles around the eyes.

    Second photo, figure on left is Patung (Squash Kachina), but the red and white shawl indicates it depicts a woman, so would be Patung Mana.

    Second photo, middle figure has the multi-colored moccasins, robe, and blue horns of a Zuni Shalako kachina, but the tube eyes are not exactly correct.

    Second photo, figure to far right, is Mongwu (Great Horned Owl.)

    First and second photos, second figures from right, both are Na-ngasohu (Chasing Star or Planet Kachina.)

    The others don't have the right combination of body paint, eye and mouth forms, and colors used, to be associated with a particular kachina.

    I should mention that besides Colton's book, Hopi Indian Kachina Dolls by Oscar T. Branson is helpful for identifying not only the kachinas, but the items they wear and carry, as well.

    (I'm glad this post was bumped up, I missed it first time around.)
  10. clutteredcloset49

    clutteredcloset49 Well-Known Member

    I didn't think it was too long. I found it very informative.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Indian arts, baskets, pottery, etc is an area I know very little about. I'm always interested in reading your posts.
  11. all_fakes

    all_fakes Well-Known Member

    I agree 100% and can add that I totally understand your (Taupou's) passion about the subject, as I have similar strong feelings about Northwest Coast Native Art and the imitators of that style.
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  12. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    & if that's not muddy enough...they are doing good False Face masks now too !!!
  13. trip98

    trip98 Well-Known Member

    Hi all:
    I am glad you all found these kachinas interesting, most have already sold with without specific names. The bulk of the lot were signed with logos and some tags by these three artisans listed below. There were more than pictured above. Names merged to discourage internet search results.
    ClarkTenakhongva=HandpaintedCWT !!
    A few were unsigned and one signature I wasn't able to figure out, although it sold. All them have feather damage.

    Here is the mark on the moon indiandollmoon2.JPG indiandollmoon1.JPG doll i can't seem to find any info
  14. Taupou

    Taupou Well-Known Member

    Not much help on this doll, which appears to be made by a contemporary craftsperson, but there is nothing to indicate any tribal affiliation.

    The three kachina carvers, however, are all widely respected contemporary Hopi artists. All are known for making "old style" kachina dolls.

    Tenakhonva, especially, is recognized internationally. He has won Best of Division at the Santa Fe Indian Market, and is represented in all major collections, featured in high-end galleries and publications, and has had numerous exhibitions. He's been active carving since 1969 (when he was 13!)

    This is a good example of the difficulties of using the internet to "research" American Indian items. One book, Gregory Schaaf's Hopi Katsina, 1600 Artist Biographies has complete biographies of all three. It sounds like you had a great collection, I hope the sales confirmed that!
  15. Taupou

    Taupou Well-Known Member

    On the topic of fake Indian art, someone has gotten creative and is sticking fake "Inuit" carvings from Indonesia on top of lidded Chinese baskets (formerly frequently sold as "Indian sweetgrass baskets"), and selling them as "Tlingit" or "Eskimo." Two for one!

    I've seen several of these recently, a couple are currently listed on eBay, one with a hefty bid: 291705669795
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  16. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    I'm watching then as we speak.........that's just low down and dirty.

    But the fake False Face Iroquois masks.......make me fume !!!
    Mill Cove Treasures likes this.
  17. Taupou

    Taupou Well-Known Member

    Maybe there should be a separate thread, just showing examples of current fake Indian items frequently encountered? I share your fuming and frustration!
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  18. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    I have over 1700 photo's from eBay, & known auction houses......
    I'd be monopolizing the tread.....but it's an idea.
    I was considering my own blog........but I don't know how to blog....and almost none of the photo's are mine !!
  19. all_fakes

    all_fakes Well-Known Member

    Komo and I had a thread for fake masks and NW Coast items; it was helpful to some people but also attracted trolls due to internet searching.
    Might have been better had I been less specific. But certainly in the basket realm one could mention the Chinese "prisoner" baskets and the Lombok baskets as being frequently mistaken for native work.
  20. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    Oh, & don't forget the ones from Nigeria.
    These basket LIDS..have been sold as Southwest NA more times than I've brushed my teeth......since I was FIVE !!!

    Taupou likes this.
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