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Hopi-Tewa Pottery Figurine of a Piptuka Clown [SOLD]

C4182D-figurine.jpg

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Pueblo Potter Unknown

The Piptuka are not sacred clowns as are the Koshare despite the amusement they provide.  They do not have a traditional appearance in dress as the Koshare. The only similarity is they whiten their faces and bodies.  Their appearance depends on the skit being performed. If the skit is to mock a tourist, they will be dressed as a tourist. If they are mocking a Navajo, they will be dressed like a Diné.

This figurine appears to be wearing a leather vest and a turquoise choker, so probably he is mocking a Navajo or possibly a tourist.  For sure, he is mocking someone. This figurine dates to the period of the late 1800s to early 1900s. It is provided with a stand for display purposes.

Pottery figurines such as this one were most likely made by the Hopi-Tewa potters at the suggestion of trader Thomas Keam.  He was instrumental in guiding the women potters to make items he thought would appeal to tourists and even to museum curators.  He obviously considered that a figurine in the likeness of the humorous clown would appeal to visitors who had seen such during a Hopi Pueblo plaza dance.


Condition: this Hopi-Tewa Pottery Figurine of a Piptuka Clown is in excellent condition

Provenance: from a major private collection of Hopi and Hopi-Tewa articles.

Recommended Reading:

America’s Great Lost Expedition: The Thomas Keam Collection of Hopi Pottery from the Second Hemenway Expedition, 1890-1894 by Edwin Wade, et al.

Clowns of the Hopi: Tradition Keepers and Delight Makers by Barton Wright

Note: when we say Diné, as opposed to Navaho or Navajo, we are referring to the people and not the government.  Since 1969, their government refers to itself as the Navajo Nation.  

Pueblo Potter Unknown
C4182D-figurine.jpgC4182-large-group.jpg Click on image to view larger.