Sunday, June 1, 2008
A New Take on an Old Form of Voodoo Poppet
This is my sacred clown doll, which was inspired by the sacred ceremonial clowns, called koshare, of the Native American Hopi Indians. This doll is created like the traditional Voodoo poppet, consisting of (in this instance) a cloth body stuffed with polyester batting and hand sewn. Some clowns have special relationships with the sun, as does my sacred clown doll. He is wearing a sun face shield, which I crafted out of polymer clay and painted, and attached numerous pheasant feathers around it. His face is hand-sculpted out of polymer clay and painted in a fashion reminiscent of the koshare.
Sacred clowns are a common archetype across many cultures, though they take on a variety of physical appearances. Typically they hold dual roles as trickster and teacher. Pueblo Clowns, also called sacred clowns, is a general term for jester or trickster in the Kachina religion practiced by the Pueblo Indians of southwestern America. Each sacred clown has its own particular role and belongs to separate secret societies or kivas, and each has a name that differs from one mesa or pueblo to another. There are five different types of clowns in the Hopi culture, and each (except the koshare) embodies a particular spirit. They perform during the spring and summer fertility rites. It is believed that when a member of a kiva wears the mask of a kachinam, he abandons his personality and becomes possessed by the spirit. The behavior of the sacred clown is typically comic, lewd, scatological, eccentric and alarming.
This art doll was a gift for a friend of mine who has a special understanding of the sacred clown. The photos leave a bit to be desired as I took them as an afterthought right before he left for his new home.