Naha, Helen “Feather Woman – Corn Katsina Clay Plaque (1970’s)
This is a very unusual painted piece by Helen Naha. She created distinctive pottery using the white kaolin clay slip throughout her career. The designs were all painted using bee-weed (black) and natural clay slips. She learned to make pottery from her mother-in-law, Paqua Naha yet had her own style in form, imagery, and composition. This piece is a plate or plaque but designed so that it could be hung. It is curved backward and there is Corn Katsina painted as the design. There are additional cloud and rain desgins around the top rim of the piece. The story of the Corn Katsina is:
The Corn Katsina (Qaokatsina) is the most common of the plant personators. They appear during winter Kiva dances and springtime plaza dances. The Corn Katsina comes in the four colors of corn (the four directional colors–red, yellow, blue and white). Sometimes they have ears of corn painted on their masks; other times they have spots painted on their bodies that represent kernels of corn.
The piece is very detailed in design and painted with bee-weed for the black. The red areas are polished clay. The plaque is signed on the back with her hallmark “feather”. It is really wonderful to note her attention to the little details and even the variation in color from the firing! The plaque is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration or repair. Definitely one an unusual and important piece by this great Hopi-Tewa potter!
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