Hopi Pueblo Chusona Cottonwood Carving or Snake Dancer [SOLD]


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Carver Unknown

This carving of a Hopi Snake Dancer dates to the mid-twentieth century and is in excellent condition. Unfortunately, the carver remains anonymous but would not likely have admitted carving it at the time anyway. Very few carvers today will carve these figures and it was even more restrictive a century ago. This is an excellent example of a Hopi Snake Dancer.

The Snake Dancer is one among several non-katsinas which are carved that are categorized as katsina dolls.  Others frequently carved are the Apache Mountain Spirit Dancers, the Butterfly Girl, Two-Horned Priests, and a Hopi maiden.

At the end of the nineteenth century, very few tourists had ever seen the Hopi Snake Dance; however, many had heard tales of a dramatic ritual that only occurred every other year in isolated Indian villages in Arizona. This religious ceremony that Victorian society found so horrifying—and so fascinating—soon grew into a symbolic representation of "Indian Country" in the Southwest. The Passenger Department of the Santa Fe Railway played upon sensationalist, tourist visions of American Indians when it published Walter Hough's travel guide The Moki Snake Dance.  It was described as “A popular account of that unparalleled dramatic pagan ceremony of the Pueblo Indians of Tusayan, Arizona, with incidental mention of their life and customs.”

Condition: very good condition with minor paint abrasions, and possibility that the right leg has been glued at the top of the moccasin.

Provenance: this Hopi Pueblo Chusona Cottonwood Carving or Snake Dancer is from the collection of a client from California

Recommended Reading: Hopi Kachinas - The Complete Guide to Collecting Kachina Dolls by Barton Wright

Close up view of the face of the dancer.
Carver Unknown
C4537A-kachina.jpgC4537A-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.