Sacred Hopi Tribal Masks are Again Sold at Auction in Paris

Mike Boehm, The Los Angeles Times
June 28, 2014

Another group of sacred Hopi masks was gaveled away at a Paris auction Friday, over the objections of tribe members and the U.S. Embassy in Paris, Agence France Presse has reported.

In Hopi tradition, the masks don’t merely represent spirits, but embody them, making it a sacrilege to collect and display them, or otherwise use them outside the ceremonies for which they were made.

An appeal to a Paris court on Thursday failed, the news agency reported, and the Eve auction house went ahead with the sale, which also included Navajo artifacts. However, only nine of the 29 masks were sold, for an average price of about $20,800. A 19th century mask fetched the highest price, $51,000.

The auction was at least the third one in Paris in the last 15 months to have taken place over U.S. and Native American objections.

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