A fascinating, majestic kachina, by veteran San Felipe/Isleta carver, Irvin Jojola.
Morning Singer, true to its name, sings. It greets the dawn, celebrating the arrival of a new day, usually during the Bean Dance ceremony, in early Spring.
The intricate, openwork design here, was carved and painted by hand from one piece of dead cottonwood. Therefore, the living tree was not harmed.
One-piece kachina carvings are difficult and not very common; therefore, very sought-after.
Expertly carved to depict the kachina/spirit hovering over the ancient cliff-dwellings of the Pueblo ancestors, there is breathtaking detail on every side.
The superb carving begins at the top, with a headdress of eagle feathers, each one carved and painted individually. A cascade of (pheasant?) feathers hangs down the back.
Two pairs of eagle feathers decorate the top of the head.
Below the mask, painted with raincloud and rain designs, a meticulously carved ruff of evergreen bough circles the neck.
Earrings of turquoise, clamshell, and jet hang from the red ears, while a splendid necklace of two strands of turquoise and clamshell heishi support a pendant of turquoise and coral, with inlaid jet and clamshell.
All this is carved and painted from the cottonwood branch.
A handsome blanket of red, white, yellow, blue and black snuggles around the shoulders and curves around to the base. Notice, in the back, the soft ripples of the draped cloth.
The chest of the kachina is hollowed out, to reveal an ancient cliff dwelling sitting on a rocky ledge, with windows, doors, and hand made bricks minutely detailed.
A colorful, embroidered double sash swoops from the figure’s left side, down and around to the side. The fringes are each carved out, and the painting is impeccably precise.
This is a kachina to display from the back, as well as the front or side: in the back, the ledge holding the cliff dwellings seen at the front is connected by a hand-hewn staircase, to another complex of houses, on another ledge.
Again, every brick, every step, is carefully carved, in detail.
Below the two-story houses, more steps lead down to an imposing, round kiva – ceremonial chamber, with a ladder emerging from the center roof.
Here, too, every brick is visible, and so are the vigas’ ends – beams – that extend outside, from the interior ceiling.
A yellow sash is delicately painted with a pattern in black, and striped at the hems with blue and red.
Every part of this remarkable kachina has been painstakingly carved, incised and/or painted, to create an extraordinary rendering of the Morning Singer, conceived as a spirit hovering over the ancient village.