Two 1940s Papka Fairies by Marja Cybis

Recently an Archive reader sent me photos of two charming little papka figures made by Marja Cybis in the early 1940s (1940-1942) while the studio was in the Steinway Mansion.  Although best recognized for her papka angels – such as the Angelic Orchestra – these figures are in her whimsy/folk-art style.


My first reaction on seeing this photo was “what a cute little witch!” and indeed her conical hat and the stars decorating her dress do justify that identification. In this view she also seems to be wearing a cape or cloak fastened at the neck. (The hat also closely resembles a Hershey Kiss, but unless she’s a chocoholic witch that wouldn’t make much sense, lol)


A subsequent photo of the back shows that her ‘cape’ is actually a pair of wings and what I first thought were long sleeves are the wingtips extending forward, as if she has the wind at her back. So my revised identification is that she’s a fairy, wearing a tubular flower bloom as a hat. Papka flower fairy seems as good a name as any, I think! 🙂


In her right hand she holds a pink flower; sadly her left arm was broken off and so we don’t know its original position or contents (if any.)


The underside is marked simply MC for Marja Cybis. This little fairy is about 4″ high overall.



The other figure is even smaller: diminutive, really, at only 2.5″ high including the blue flower chapeau. This little miniature papka fairy is even more folk-art in appearance, and her wings have toothed edges reminiscent of a linden leaf. The arms/hands are rudimentary but the left one has a motif painted on it that suggests a blue flower, matching her hat.


This too is marked with MC for Marja Cybis.

A third Marja Cybis papka item was acquired by the owner at the same time: An example of the Mandolinist from the Angelic Orchestra, which has been added to the Archive post about that group. It’s a good example of how these early 1940s papka figures could differ in decoration.

Additional papka figures appear in A Monumental Bird and Flower Pair and Papka and Early Porcelain Designs. Again, many thanks to the owner of these charming “mini Marjas” for sharing photos with the Archive!

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