We regret to tell you that Jake passed away in June, 2011, a great loss to the Native American art world, and to the Hopi Nation. At 41 year of age, Jake had won all of the major awards at the top Indian Market Shows. In 2005, he achieved the Best Of Show award at both the Heard Museum Spring Show and at the Santa Fe Indian Market, a feat never before replicated, and never since.
Three More Pieces By Jake
As a tribute to Jake, we are showing a piece that we had on our site called "Coming of the Kachinas," a picture of his Best of Show piece in the 2005 Santa Fe Indian Market, and a gigantic piece he called Big Boy that he sold at the Heard Museum Show, March 1, 2008.
Coming of the Kachinas
By Jacob Koopee, Hopi
Jake lived in the Hopi village of Sichomovi, one of the three villages on the top of First Mesa. He actively participated in the annual cycle of Hopi ceremonies involving the Kachina dances. Since he was an active participant, he knew and understood the individual Kachinas. Although very modern in style, this piece is his interpretation of the Coming of the Kachinas.
Jake and one of his large, yet-to-be-fired bowls.
According to Hopi beliefs, the Kachinas come down from the San Francisco Mountains at the time of the winter solstice. They stay with the Hopi people during the winter and spring months, leaving just after the summer solstice in June. Since the Hopis were and are an agrarian society, most of their dances and celebrations are directed at having sufficient rain to bring about abundant crops of their staple, corn. His emphasis on repeating the Corn Dancers is an example of the emphasis on the success of the corn crop.
Above is Jake's interpretation of the first 12 Kachinas to appear at the beginning of the Kachina season, the "Coming of the Kachinas." Following is his identification of the 12 Kachinas.
Starting at the lower portion of the piece, you see the Hopi Maiden, next to the inside rim. Going to the right, next is the Ogre Kachina, A. The Left-Handed Hunter Kachina, B, and the gambler Corn Dancer at the 90° point, C. Continuing up the right side, the twin gods, Pagaanhoya and Monghoya, D. On the outer rim again, there is another Corn Dancer, the Popcorn Kachina, E. At the top, is Hé-é-e Noteh, F, the warrior maiden. Between the last two Kachinas are the spiral sign for water, and the open squares signifying an ant hill. Little random dots signify rain; random dashes signify germination. Just below and to the left of the warrior maiden, is the story teller Kachina, Quot Kalan G. Another Corn Dancer, H. Next is the male Palak Shalako, I. The the leader of the Home Dance, J, the last dance for the new brides. Just above J are three black bands representing eagle tail feathers. K is the Sun Kachina, Tawa. And, L, another Corn Dancer.
More information may be obtained on the entire Hopi Kachina tradition by obtaining the books "Hopi Kachina Dolls," by Harold S. Colton; or "Hopi Kachinas," by Barton Wright; both at Amazon.
Best of Show, 2005 Indian Market
Big Boy, 2008 Heard Museum Show
Several years before this Show, we were visiting Jake at his home at Sichomovi Village on the top of First Mesa. He took us out to his storeroom and showed us several steel shells, ranging up to two feet in diameter. He said that he had obtained these from a company that makes steel bouys for harbors around the world. His intent was to use these as pukis. To explain this, a puki is a small bowl that potters use to start the bottom of their pot, when hand coiling. He said, pointing to one of the larges shells, "I'm going to call it 'Big Boy.'" We could not believe that anyone could make a hand coiled pot this big, but here are the pictures. These pictures were taken the first morning of the 2008 Heard Show. We returned the next day, and Jake had sold the "Big Boy." We asked him if he minded telling us the sale price. He said, "$25,000."