HOPI KACHINA FIGURE
Height: 19 ¾ in (50 cm)
Very good condition overall for an object of this age and type, with wear consistent with considerable age and handling. Nicks, chips, scratches, small losses and surface wear throughout. The surface well worn, with minor pigment loss in places and crackling to parts of the face and lower body, Both lower arms broken and glued, the proper left with old metal pins. Outer edge of proper right foot broken and glued. Stable age cracks apparent in places, particularly to the reverse. Has base.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
George Terasaki, New York, acquired in the 1970s
Andrea Portago and Barton Wright, Classic Hopi and Zuni Kachina Figures, Santa Fe, 2006, pl. 103 and p. 144
Alexandra Pascassio and George Terasaki, Kachina: George Terasaki Collection, Paris, 2008, n.p., cat. no. 1 (cover)
Sotuknangu is both a kachina and a deity figure, whose name roughly translates to “Heart of the Sky God.” As a deity and lord of the sky and all of its attributes, Sotuknangu figures prominently into the Hopi creation myth, which tells of four separate, distinct worlds.
In the first world, known as Tokpela or “Infinite Space,” the Creator or Taiowa created Sotuknangu with an instructive to create nine universes using the elements of earth, water and air. He then was able to create a female companion, known as Kokyangwuti (or “Spider-Grandmother”), who would help him populate these universes with flora and fauna. She then created the first humans in the likeness of Sotuknangu. The sky god endowed these humans with speech and instructed them to worship and respect their Creator. As humans multiplied and established themselves on Earth, they became susceptive to forces like Lavaihoya, or the “Smooth Talker,” who dispelled earlier conceptions of equality amongst men and respect for animals. As a result, animals ceased to interact with humans, and humans divided themselves into groups based upon skin color and native language. In order to bring an end to the chaos, Sotuknangu gathered all the men who remained loyal to his original precepts, and guided them to safety while destroying the rest of the world with fire.
In the second world called Topka or “Black Midnight,” men at first lived peacefully, until they gathered in villages and started participating in commerce, which led to extreme corruption and loss of faith in the Creator. Sotuknangu then again saved those who remained faithful, and destroyed the rest by ice.
The third world was called Kuskurza, and as before Sotuknangu instructed the humans that remained to follow the ancient precepts. This time however, man created civilizations which begot warfare. Once again, Sotuknangu saved the few who remained pure, and destroyed this world by flood.
The remaining humans went by raft to the fourth world or Oraibi, which according to Hopi tradition is the world still inhabited by mankind (see Geneste and Mickeler, Kachina: Messengers of the Hopi and Zuñi Gods, Paris, 2011, pp. 10-13). Sotuknangu thus plays an integral role as both a creator and destroyer figure in the Hopi pantheon, whose ability to control the elements has the power to alternatively nurture or destroy life. According to Barton Wright, in his role as a kachina Sotuknangu “[...] is a fearsome personage who can strike people with lightning, scattering them about in pieces. He then puts them back together, but when he does this, they are put together wrong." (Portago and Wright, Classic Hopi and Zuni Kachina Figures, Santa Fe, 2006, p. 144).