#512 Hopi Nativity Collection

Acquired 2008

Also, from Tlaquepaque's Feliz Navidad in Sedona, AZ., this most “crude” nativity collection of Hopi Kachina Dolls can be frightening to gaze upon until you come to understand the significance of it. The Hopi Indians are native to Arizona, along with the Pueblos. The Hopi Indian chiefs (and now in the more modern time, some women) have been making Kachina dolls (such as these nativity pieces) for countless generations. Kachina dolls are carved representatives of the Kachina spirits which are believed to be among the Hopi villages from December to July. The Kachina's are supernatural and are the spirit or the essence of animate and inanimate objects in the natural environment that are of benefit to the Hopi. According to their beliefs these dolls bring moisture and rain, fertility of crops, animals, and man. The Kachina can cure diseases, punish transgressions, and can muse depending on the circumstance. The dolls are carved from the root of the cottonwood tree after it has eroded. When eroded, the roots are then fully dried so that the wood is light, porous, and easily carved. It is used because the Hopi believe that the roots of the Cottonwood tree seek out water, the all-important ingredient for desert living. The tools used for carving were formally a sharp stone flake and a block of sandstone for smoothing. Today they use more modern tools. The surface is coated with a layer of fine clay or a commercial preserver to make the painting adhere. The colors and symbols were formally made of pigments and with tempura and casein and now are done with acrylic and oil-based stains. This nativity set is not a part of their culture, and they don't believe in the Christ of Christmas. But Diego, the owner of Feliz Navidad Christmas store, has a close relationship with many of the Hopi people, especially the artists of their tribe. Virgil Long, one such Hopi artist, is the designer of this nativity set. He resides in Winslow, near Sedona, and was willing to carve these beautiful Kachina dolls and depict them as the nativity pieces. Therefore, Joseph is Eoto, one of the Hopi spirits. Kachina mother is Mary, and Waya is Baby Jesus. The butterfly girl becomes the angel. The wise men are the Bearded Long Hair, the Morning Singer, and the Germ God. Included in the set as animals are the typical species native to the Hopi area - a white bear, buffalo, and mountain sheep. This complete set is ten of the most unusual handmade pieces. As one of a kind and not available anywhere except Feliz Navidad at the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, the purchase price was $639.00.