Arts of the Americas
On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
Cottonwood root, acrylic pigment, hide, feathers, fur, yarn, beads, shell
Doll: 16 1/2 x 6 x 7 1/2 in. (41.9 x 15.2 x 19.1 cm)
Mask: 7 x 8 x 4 in. (17.8 x 20.3 x 10.2 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Edith and Hershel Samuels
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probably Henry Shelton (born 1929). Kachina Doll, 1960-1970. Cottonwood root, acrylic pigment, hide, feathers, fur, yarn, beads, shell, Doll: 16 1/2 x 6 x 7 1/2 in. (41.9 x 15.2 x 19.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Edith and Hershel Samuels, 2010.6.14. Creative Commons-BY
overall, 2010.6.14_view2_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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Great Horned Owl (Mongwu) Kachina Doll with removable mask. Artist probably Henry Shelton based on stylistic characteristics. The unusual, removable owl mask has real feathers and fur on a carved helmet style mask. Yellow circular eyes and yellow beak. The entire Kachina figure without the mask has been carved from one piece of cottonwood root and appears fairly static with PR hand raised and other arm straight down and both legs on the ground. Each hand carries some plants of green stalks with white tips. He wears a carved kilt and has a real hide cape that crosses with a strap in the front and is decorated with shells. The boots are painted on and he wears yarn and hide ties at their tops. The face of the Kachina is painted white with strong features. He has short black hair. He wears a beaded blue and white necklace. Dynamism is achieved when the mask is put over the head. Mongwu appears singly during mixed Kachina night dances (Angka'wa) usually in March.
The fur and feathered mask of Mongwu, the Great Horned Owl, is removable on this kachina. Underneath is revealed the intense face of the dancer as seen in the photo. Mongwu performs the role of a sergeant. He carries a whip to indicate he is a discipliner, protector and overseer of the other kachinas. He closely watches the Mudhead kachinas and if they become too rowdy he disciplines them. He appears singly in March night dances where the purpose is to create a pleasant atmosphere for life, encourage growth and bring rains so it is important to maintain a harmony.
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