70 Hopi and Zuni Masks to be Auctioned in Paris


On April 12, a collection of 70 Hopi and Zuni masks will be auctioned by Neret-Minet at the Druout Richelieu gallery and auction house in Paris, France. The array of katsinam masks was amassed by a collector over the course of 30 years, and date to the late 19th and early 20th century, according to the description at Druout.com (a translated version can be found at ArtDaily.org).

"The idea that a people would dedicate so much time and energy to the rise of celestial bodies fascinated our collector," reads the auction's description. "In his collection, the CROW MOTHER mask, Angwusnasomtaqa in the Hopi language, held pride of place, and he had to wait over 20 years to attend the Powamu rituals in early February, the only time the mother of all the Katsinam appears in the village. By his own admission, you have to see the masks in dances to fully appreciate them."

The text goes on to describe ten other masks being auctioned.

Not everyone is thrilled about the auction. In a post at Muddy Roads & Dusty Trails, a blogger describes the Hopi as "horrified."

"Under American law [the masks] should be repatriated to the Hopi Nation," the blogger writes. "The auction house knows this, from their good description of the pieces on can easily deduct that they know about the power of these friends but prefer the power of cash and carry. Katsinam should never be sold on the auction block. The sadness on Hopi is immeasurable. The art stolen under the Nazi regime is also in the process of being returned to their original owners families. Let the same rule be applied."

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Native Museum Professional's picture
Native Museum P...
Submitted by Native Museum P... on
It is true that our NAGPRA is strong here in the USA, maybe we should consider rephrashing certain parts of the Act, that would entailed the repatriation of holdings on and international level. I am so much hurt and outraged, that our friends (Kachinas) won't make it home.

native american woman's picture
native american...
Submitted by native american... on
the masks being auctioned should be a crime, for those non natives with regard to prior centuries have no idea what they are getting into. The maske are very regilious and sacred. I feel sorry for those who purchase any of the masks. They are nothing to play with or take lightly. Some bad carma will come to those who attain what should be returned to the Hopi and Zuni culture.