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Wilson Tawaquaptewa Very Old Katsina Doll


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Wilson Tawaquaptewa (1871-1960)
  • Category: Traditional
  • Origin: Hopi Pueblo
  • Medium: wood, paint
  • Size: 7-7/8” height
  • Item # C4045E
  • Price: $3,450.00

Wilson Tawaquaptewa is the earliest carver that we know by name and he created figures that were given to the children as well as pieces that he sold. His carving career spanned at least four decades.

Wilson Tawaquaptewa would unhesitatingly alter the iconography of a Katsina doll in subtle ways. All his carvings were beautifully made, and his style is quite identifiable, although it is sometimes difficult to determine which katsina he had in mind while carving. This was not by accident. As a religious leader at Hopi, he was not comfortable with selling authentic katsina dolls to tourists, so he made slight changes to the carvings. This satisfied his conflict with religion and sales and appeased the tourist who was unaware anyway.

Photo ca. 1944: Hopi Katsina: 1,600 Artist Biographies by Gregory and Angie Yan Schaaf.This carving is a very early one by Wilson Tawaquaptewa and is, quite possibly, one made for presentation to a Hopi Pueblo child.  It is simple in form but true to the older style carvings. The torso extending to a very long skirt, leaving very short legs, is a sign of an early 1900s carving.  The tale-tale black dots on each arm are signature items of Wilson Tawaquaptewa. The arms hugging the stomach are another sign of the earlier style of carvings.

Wilson Tawaquaptewa was Kikmongwi (Chief) of Oraibi Village at the time of the famous rift that occurred on September 8, 1906, which divided the village into progressives and traditionalists. The progressives were in favor of cooperating with the U.S. Government’s policy that Hopi children must go to school. The traditionalists wanted nothing to do with the government’s policies.

Condition: very good condition for its age.  There is a hole drilled in the back of the doll and some minor paint abrasion.  The fronts of both feet exhibit very old abrasions.

Provenance: this Wilson Tawaquaptewa Very Old Katsina Doll is from the estate of Santa Fe dealer and collector Martha (Marti) Struever who passed away in August 2017

Recommended Reading:  Kikmongwi As Artist: The Katsina Dolls of Wilson Tawaquaptewa by Barry Walsh. American Indian Art Magazine, Vol. 24, No. 1, Winter 1998.

Photo ca. 1944: Hopi Katsina: 1,600 Artist Biographies by Gregory and Angie Yan Schaaf.

Close up view of the face of this Katsina Doll.