This highly respected kachina carver refers to his pieces as “dolls”, to be carried around, and played with, by children.
That is one of the several functions of kachinas, in traditional Hopi culture.
Kachinas also functionas visual textbooks, teaching children especial girls, how to recognize the various kachinas, when impersonated by dancers, and their stories and roles in ceremonies.
Carving them is a creative outlet for men, and hanging them on the walls, when not in play, decorates the house.
The artist is very committed to Hopi traditions, and adheres to absolute authenticity in his carvings.
Poleyestewa’s “dolls are carved in the original, traditional, quasi-abstract style of old, and scrupulous in authentic detail.
This funny-looking fellow is not a clown, although he makes us smile, to see him.
Legend has it that there was a badly crippled man in the village of Mishongnovi, who was so kind and gentle that he was made a kachina ( sort of like a saint).
He hobbles around, handing out presents to the children during various dances.
Carved from one piece of dead cottonwood root, and covered with earth-based natural colors, he does look sweetly harmless.
And no, despite his long nose, he is not the Hopi version of Pinocchio – just a misshapen old man, as seen in his twisted legs.
Natural feathers, a deerskin and shell medicine pouch, and fleece hair, and a carved kilt, complete the ceremonial outfit.
Soft colors, a variety of textures, and his lightly confused, but benign expression make this carving of an unusual kachina a delight to behold.
And, he wears a daisy (artificial), reminding us to smell the flowers.
Not handsome, but handsomely portrayed, this is a charming “doll”, with a lovely story.