Hopi Indian ceremonial masks to auction in Paris

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2015-06-26 11:03:20

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Hopi Indian ceremonial masks to auction in Paris

An incredible collection of seventy unique ceremonial Hopi Indian masks is set to auction in Paris, at Neret-Minet on April 12.

Amassed over three decades by a connoisseur during his time in the USA, the masks date from the late 19th-early 20th century.

The surreal faces depicted by these tribal creations symbolise the most significant Katsinam spirits in the Hopi pantheon.

The Hopi Indians continue to practice ritual ceremonies to mark the passing of the seasons, adorning themselves with corresponding clothing and masks, embodying the necessary spirit to ensure good rains and crops.

The Katsinam are manifestations of the real world, the spirits of minerals, game, plants, trees, wind, and the dead. They are summoned through dance to exert their beneficial powers, to help humankind live in harmony with their environment.

The frightening Tsa’kwayna/Chakwaina mask, meaning ‘He-who-screams’, dates from the late 19th century. It represents the 16th century ancestor of the Asa clan, Estebanico, and is valued at €15,000-€20,000.

A Kachina sorcerer mask bears a solar disk, and is typically crafted from recycled boot and saddle leather, horse hair, feathers, wood and cotton. It is estimated to sell for €35,000. A helmet mask with rain cloud symbols is valued at €15,000-€20,000.

Central to the collection is the Angqusnasomtaqa, or Crow Mother mask. The collector testifies that the masks can only be truly appreciated when viewed as part of the ritual dances they are designed for, playing out the stories of ceremony.

The frightening Kokopolo Mana, or ‘Robber Fly Girl’ mask, in dance simulates copulation with a victim who is thus rendered impotent for a year.

The sacred Kooyemsi or ‘Mudhead Clown’ mediates between good and evil, but also plays pranks and entertains. The Wuyak-Ku-Ita helmet mask dances the Powamu Bean Dance with ogres, frightening the Mudhead Clown.

The black felt Kokosori masks represents the little fire god Kachina. The Situlilu mask, a Zuni rattlesnake kachina, bears a crown of turkey feathers.

The auction of this remarkable collection presents an exciting opportunity for collectors to acquire unique items of Native American tribal antiques.

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