Native American, Southwestern USA, Arizona and New Mexico, Hopi Peoples, ca. 1920s CE. A truly striking, large katsina (kachina) figure, with the body carved from a single piece of wood, given rabbit fur and grey feather attachments. This fellow may represent the Hano Cactus Katsina, holding a red-capped rattle and a handle of feathers. He is draped in a green, plant-like cape and has a tube-shaped mouth. Size: 4.25" W x 18.3" H (10.8 cm x 46.5 cm)
The Katsinam, supernatural beings who live in the high mountains of the San Francisco Peaks above traditional Hopi territory, speak to the Hopi through costumed dance and song. These dancers emerge from the round ceremonial kivas that are at the center of their communities, singly or in groups, and dance to the music of drums, rattles, and song. Katsina figures (katsina dolls, katsin-tihu), made of cottonwood root, were created to represent them. Cottonwood is culturally symbolic because the cottonwood tree, once abundant in traditional Hopi lands, grows where water flows - thus, looking across a landscape, lines of cottonwood trees denote a water source in the desert. After carving, the figures are painted all over with whitewash, made from kaolin clay, and then painted in brilliant colors. Originally these were done using yucca brushes. Many of them are then decorated with other materials, like feathers, cloth, or fur. Katsina dolls are often given objects to hold which indicate their roles. Kachina dolls are not toys, but are given to young girls, representations of benevolent spirit beings.
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection
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