Old Man Kachina
We loved this carver’s tiny miniature kachinas. Now, he has branched out to create larger figures that are even more detailed and admirable.
This particular kachina is not one of the “usual suspects”, but an uncommon, albeit important one. Old Man represents a grandfather, or elder, whose role is to sing songs that encourage a bountiful harvest. This is really important, since the Hopi and Zuni are dry farmers – they rely solely on rainwater to irrigate their fields. He carries ears of corn in one hand, and dried corn husks in the other. Colors of blue and yellow convey the hop for balance between sunlight and water, so the corn will flourish. Rain signs adorn his kilt, and angular cloud symbols edge the sleeves, hems and collar of his garments.
The details are abundant and beautifully done: eagle feathers on the headdress to send his songs up to the heavens to be heard, as well as closely bunched, white-tipped brown feathers in the back – each individually carved; fox tails around his neck and down the back of the kilt; an intricately “inlaid” necklace with “turquoise” arrowhead; the texture and hue of his deerskin jacket and kilt, and more.
His face is divided into two halves, one yellow, one blue, and decorated with many little crosses. They represent the four geographic directions – to indicate that the blessings of a good harvest – health, happiness, prosperity – should reach all the four corners of the earth. There is a sort of halo of white scallops in front of the eagle feathers – this might represent the sun’s rays. In front, an uptilted nose is plump and yellow, like an ear of corn, and also decorated with the four direction symbols.As marvelous as these colorful details are, one other feature of this kachina is paramount: it is a true, one-piece carving. Every single part is carved out of the one piece of cottonwood root. You will notice that the kilt is attached to the base, for instance, and the knife marks are visible behind an up-raised heel, also attached to the base. The skill involved in this decorative, unusual kachina is as impressive as its esthetic appeal. This is a kachina carving for the collector, beginning or experienced.
Dead Cottonwood Root, Paint
Width: 3 1/4″ Height: 8 5/8″ Depth: 2 1/4″