Polacca, Thomas – “Palhlik Mana” Lidded Jar (1982)
Thomas Polacca was a son of noted potter Fannie Nampeyo and a grandson of Nampeyo of Hano. He is considered among the first men to begin making pottery at Hopi in the 1970s. Interestingly, the men initially did not use the traditional Sikyatki designs but followed other directions in their pottery. This is one of his most famous forms. It is a lidded jar in the shape of a Butterfly Maiden or “Palhik Mana”. The box of the jar is sculpted and etched. The lid is created so that it sits down inside the neck of the jar and the line separating the two is barely visible. The head is sculpted and the tablita or headdress is fully painted on both sides. The piece is painted with various clay slips and bee-weed. This piece captures the essence of early male potters at Hopi who were trying to create pieces in clay similar to wood katsina carvings. The way Thomas was able to construct his Butterfly Maiden was a creative change in Hopi-Tewa pottery. The piece is signed on the bottom in the clay, “TNampeyo”. The signature is interesting, as it is the “hallmark” he created for his pottery stylizing his name. It is from 1982. It is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.
About the Butterfly Maiden (Palhlik Mana):
“Butterfly Maiden is a katsina whom every very spring dances from flower to flower, pollinating the fields and flowers and bringing life-giving rain to the Arizona desert. She is represented by a woman dancer at the yearly Butterfly Dance, a traditional initiation rite for Hopi girls. The rite takes place in late summer, before the harvest, to give thanks to Polik-mana for her spring dance Hopi girls participating in the Butterfly Dance wear ornate headdresses called kopatsoki.