John Poleahla was most active in the 1980’s, when we purchased his work, including this piece. He is a retired, and well-respected lawyer, as well.
Now, as an elder, he promotes the education of Hopi customs and lore, so the younger generations keep knowledge of their heritage.
His kachinas are always sleekly finished, brightly colorful, authentic, of course, and a nice bridge between abstract and realistic, like this appealing Butterfly Maiden.
Butterflies help to propagate plants – including crops – as they flit about. Butterfly Maiden is a symbol of good luck, since she symbolizes a healthy harvest.
With enough to eat, good health, happiness and prosperity are celebrated.
A gracefully folded blanket, decorated at top and bottom hems with rain symbols, envelops her simplified body. The traditional, woven, red and black sash peeks out, adding more color.
Her right arm is suggested, beneath the blanket, and that hand is firmly carved, holding an eagle feather and a colorful leaf.
Like the one on her head, the eagle feather represents prayers for the end result of the butterfly’s work: a bountiful harvest.
Notice the antennae on her head, as well as the vibrantly painted wings.
A lovely, vintage carving of a very popular and meaningful kachina.