Art or life?

hopi mask

Hopi mask at auction in Paris

Can I please be the Hopi shaman who got to wear this helmet? Ah. OK. I didn’t think so.

On April 12 the Néret-Minet auction house in Paris will auction many sacred Hopi artifacts, over the objections of the tribe. Above, a helmet representing the Crow Mother, made from leather recycled from a Mexican saddle and feathers, is among the artifacts up for auction. Others are shown in this NYTimes slide show.

“The Hopis, who number about 18,000 in northeast Arizona, believe the objects in the Paris sale, which they call Katsinam, or ‘friends,’ are imbued with divine spirits. The brightly colored visages and headdresses, often adorned with horsehair, sheepskin, feathers and maize, are thought to embody the spirits of warriors, animals, messengers, fire, rain and clouds, among other things.”

Embodying the spirits of fire, rain, and clouds sounds like my idea of art, actually. Sacred or not, most of these look as if they were created right now. Paul Klee would have loved them. And Picasso.


2 Responses to “Art or life?”

  1. Steve Kopacz

    Please remove the photo of the “kwatsi”, which you ignorantly call a “helmet” and would not be worn by a “shaman”. Crow mother is one of the most important of the Hopi katsina, and to depict this figure on your website is highly disrespectful. Admittedly, it is magnificent but it is wrong to display it in this manner. Thank you.

  2. Al in SoCal

    “Can I please be the Hopi shaman who got to wear this helmet?”

    You know … could you give these artifacts the respect they deserve? “Helmet” is not the word I would use to describe this beautiful and sacred work of a people who are distressed at it even being sold.