Following are excerpts from Sotheby Auctions of Native American items, specifically Kachinas:
Sotheby's, May 8, 2006... A fine Hopi polychrome wood Kachina doll, 10 ¾ inches high, depicting the Shalako Mana, of highly stylized form, standing on squat legs. Kachinas, the catalogue explains, are "spirit supernaturals, once of this world" who live in an underworld with Hopi ancestors and who are supposed to reappear in the first half of the year when they are personated in dance. The lot has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $21,600.
Sotheby's, May 8, 2006... Another Hopi polychromed Kachina doll. The 15 ¼-inch-high figure holds a spotted lizard in its mouth and has exaggerated ears. It is attributed to Wilson Tawaquaptewa who was born in 1873 into the Bear Clan of the Hopi village ofOraibi on the Third Mesa in northeastern Arizona. In 1904, Tawauqaptewa became village chief and remained so until his death in the 1960s except, the catalogue notes "for a few interruptions related to political imprisonment or to health problems." He was the leader of the Friendlies who supported cooperation between the Hopi and the United States Government. His dolls, the catalogue continued, "are now valued by collectors and museums for their quirky creativity, the distorted realism and their artistic presence." The lot has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $21,600.
Artnet Auction Report: Sotheby's American Indian Art
by Gabriel Desai
Energetic bidding for some exceptional lots marked Sotheby's auction of American Indian material on Dec. 4, 1997. The sale totaled $4,366,628 for 368 of 484 lots sold (76 percent by lot), a record for any American Indian auction.
Particularly notable was a splendid selection of Zuni and Hopi kachinas and dolls, dating from the 1890s to 1920, from the collection of Alan Kessler, the Photo-Realist painter who has showed at O.K. Harris gallery in New York. Originally made for children to teach them about the different deities, these works of carved and painted cottonwood were often highly ceremonial. Many of the pieces soared past their presale estimates.
Top lot of this group was the dancing Salako Mana doll, which went for a record $265,000 (est. $85,000-$125,000) to an anonymous telephone bidder. The sheer size and monumental quality of this piece, with its animated posture, elaborate "tableta" headdress and much of it's original paint, singled it out as a star exhibit.
A highly stylized Rio Grande doll depicting the Winter Clown, brightly colored in yellow and blue and with an icicle horn tufted with animal hair on its crown, sold for $80,000 (est. $65,000-$75,000). Such figures were keepers of tradition, using humor to communicate beliefs that were nevertheless deeply felt.
Also notable was a striking figural group of two Hopi Mud Head Clowns, depicted wearing black kilts and sack masks, with one crouched on the shoulders of the other. This unusual pair sold for $31,000 (est. $14,000-$16,000).