Some Hopi clowns are well-known – the striped Koshare, the ruddy Mudhead – but this is another that is just as traditional, but not well-known at all.
Sikya Tsutskutu, the Yellow Clown Kachina is not often portrayed as winsomely as this example.
He is supposed to be obnoxious, uncouth, and uneducated in traditionally acceptable ways.
In other words, kind of like a comic book hillbilly, which is how Poleyestewa has portrayed him, leaving out the rambunctiousness.
This highly respected carver, however, likes to create accurate portrayals of the various kachinas, but in a way that makes you want to carry them around, and cuddle them; he calls his pieces “dolls”.
Kachina carvings are meant to teach children, especially little girls, how to recognize the various kachina dancers, and to learn the lore behind each one.
Also, carving a kachina is a creative activity for the men, and hanging them on the walls allows the women to decorate the house. All this in one carving!
Back to Yellow Clown: his body is covered in ochre, as here; the face is adorned with black circles and lines that make it difficult to see the real person’s traits, the kilt is hitched up with a piece of white cloth, and there is an old kerchief around the neck.
Poleyestewa has placed a real, doll-sized straw hat on the head, from which tufts of fur “hair” escape. Together with the stuck-out tongue and goofy expression, he looks like a real rube.
He is supposed to cause a humorous ruckus, behaving loudly and badly; ending up chastened enough to sprinkle cornmeal on the dancers, in penance.
This little fellow follows all the specifications, except he looks shy and in need of a hug.
Carved from a dead cottonwood root, so the tree is not harmed, and coated with natural plant and mineral colors, he is authentic, and then some.
Love that hat!