Saturday, January 31, 2009

Another Grand Hopi Buying Trip

I'm fond of saying that Hopi jewelry is good by definition. Since the middle ages they have survived in their hostile high desert land that would have decimated other civilizations in short order. I believe their well honed survival skills have lead in part to a discipline that is manifest in the near perfection one sees so consistently in their art, especially their jewelry and Kachinas. The Hopi's are vastly outnumbered by their Navajo brethern thus their products are quite limited when judged by comparison. I'm surprised products we list do not sell as briskly as I would expect given their consistent excellence of quality and rather scant supply. Perhaps it is only a few traders like me, collectors, and the Japanese that have really discovered Hopi jewelry. Even though we have a good supply of Hopi products on hand, I wanted to get in another day of shopping so Sandy and I took off early this morning under clear skies for a day trip to Hopi. We had no trouble finding additional products to market and intereacting with Hopi artisans was once again delightful. Our buying was compete in short order so we decided to stop at the Hopi Cultural Center for some blue corn fry bread based tacos and on exit encountered Kachina maker Lawrence Mahle of Polacca on 1st Mesa. We do not deal in Kachinas for a variety of reasons the two principal ones being that the jewelry business keeps us busy and shipping of Kachinas is not something we want to do. Nonetheless on seeing Mr. Mahle with his well made products, along with his young wife and child, I wanted to support his art and so bought the Healer Bear Kachina you see pictured. He explained the role of the healer bear whose magic healing is derived and delivered from juniper root he gives to chew on. He is also said to answer prayers and Mr. Mahle suggested that we try directing some of our own prayers to the Bear. I walked away feeling quite good about my acquisition of the bear. I had taken only a couple of steps in toward my car when Calvin Pavetea, a Hopi also from Polacca, pulled up in his pickup truck to ask me through his open window to take a look at his butterfly Kachina that he was offering for sale. When he quoted his price, I informed I had just depleted my cash reserves on the Bear. He agreed to take a check. Meanwhile, he explained to Sandy the construction and meaning of our new Butterfly Kachina then he pulled a piece of raw cottonwood root to show her. Hopi Kachinas are widely acknowedged as the best and their carving depends on a source of cottonwood root no longer available on their reservation land. It was just a wondeful day once again out here in the West, I even picked up a piece of jewelry that will be a candidate for find of the year. Stayed tuned for a look at Navajo Cody Hunter's storyteller belt buckle.