A French auction house will auction off this Hopi kachina face depicting Crow Mother.
By Dennis Wagner
In Hopi theology, kachinas are supernatural messengers depicted in fantastical costumes worn during religious ceremonies. There are several hundred spirit characters in the pantheon representing wildlife, plants, human qualities, weather and other facets of nature or society.
Also known as katsinas, these characters are more commonly depicted in smaller form as carved doll-like figures.
Plans to auction the dramatic facial representations on April 12 spawned a protest from the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office and calls for the French government to intercede.
The Museum of Northern Arizona’s director, Robert Breunig, posted a letter Friday to the Paris auction house on Facebook, urging that the iconic, masklike visages be returned to Hopis of Arizona and the related New Mexico pueblos of Acoma, Zuni and Jemez.
“I can tell you from personal knowledge that the proposed sale of these katsina friends, and the international exposure of them, is causing outrage, sadness and stress among members of the affected tribes,” Breunig wrote. “For them, katsina friends are living beings. ... To be displayed disembodied in your catalog, and on the Internet, is sacrilegious and offensive.”
In messages on social media, the Heard Museum and the Museum of Northern Arizona said the scheduled April 12 sale by Neret-Minet Tessier and Sarrou has triggered outrage within the indigenous Hopi community.
"The proposed sale of these katsina friends, and the international exposure of them, is causing outrage, sadness and stress among members of the affected tribes," he said, using an alternative spelling for kachina.