Katsinas are spirit beings who are the intermediaries between the Hopi and their deities, carrying the prayers of the Hopis for the continuation of the cycle of life of all living things. They may represent the spirit of plants, animals, forces of natures, places or even other tribes. Some are known for their duties (eg: guard, clown...) and not all names are translatable. They appear in the plazas for Hopi villages for approximately 6 months of the year as they dwell in the katsina or spirit world for the other half of the year.
They are carved from the root of the cottonwood tree - used because the cottonwood grows only where there is an ample and consistent supply of water - rare around the Hopi mesas - and because of the water-seeking nature of the roots, which can grow out and down a couple hundred feet or more in search of the water table. If you are interested in learning more, there are several books we can recommend to you (which we also sell).
Between our Santa Fe and Tucson stores we generally have somewhere between 300 and 400 katsinas so on our website we can only hope to show you a cross-section. Please contact us if you are looking for something specific that you do not see. We may have it or be able to acquire it for you.
Three vintage Hopi katsinas circa 1940. From a collection in Santa Fe. From left to right: a Pang (Mountain Sheep), Ho'ote, and Tsöp (Antelope). Each is about 17-17.5 inches high and $2400.
This Koyemsi or Mudhead, by Ryan Gashweseoma, is 8.5 inches high and $185. (SANTA FE
Sólàawitsi is a being whose name is usually translated as Fire God, though his name might be best translated as Sun’s Speaker. He usually carries a pack made of fawn skin, filled with seeds for the Spring planting. At Zuni he appears during the Winter Solstice, when the sun begins its return journey and also carries a cedar bark torch. 14 inches high. $250.
If you lose a footrace to the Wikchina or GreasyHand katsina, your clothes will be smeared with the grease and soot this runner gets from wiping his hands along the insides of chimney pipes. 12.5 inches high. $250 (SANTA FE)
Above is a Qömvi Matya or Black Hand katsina. One of the wawarus or runner katsina, they can appear in any of the directional colors, black being the color for the north.Also by Ryan Gashweseoma, it's 8 inches to the top of the feather. $220. (SANTA FE)
Nick Brokeshoulder has been busy - his son Randy just brought in these three wawarus or Runner katsinas.
Running is also a part of Hopi rain-bringing ritual, with runners stationing themselves miles south of the village and then racing back, with the idea that their running would encourage the clouds or cloud people to race back with them, bringing the rain. Runner katsinas will often challenge a young Hopi to a race during the dances. If the young man wins, he is rewarded with a basketry plaque that he presents to a female relative. If he loses his fate is in the hands of the particular katsina who wants to encourage him to be a better runner
This is the Sikya Matya or Ywllow Hand katsina. 14 inches high. $250. (SANTA FE)
An Anakchin Mana or Long Hair Maiden. She often accompanies the Long Hair seen at right. By Randy Brokeshoulder. 14.25 inches high, not including the feathers. $425. (SANTA FE)
A Korosto katsina by Gene Lalo. 10.5 inches high. $250. (SANTA FE)
his particular carving represents a katsina known by a couple of names – depending in part in which village on what mesa he appears: Korowista , Ota and the descriptive names of Kwasa’taqa, Kwasa’ykatsina (“kwasa” is Hopi for “dress”). It is a katsina borrowed from the kokko of Zuni.
A Nakyatsop by Nick Brokeshoulder. 17 inches high and $360. (SANTA FE)
A Pusukinangaksina by Nick Brokeshoulder. He stands 13 3/8 inches high, not including his tallest feather, and is $450. (SANTA FE)
This particular carving represents a red-bearded variation of the Anak'china or Long Hair katsina dancer that appears with a drummer. The katsina in turn represents the spirit of the summer rains - specifically the long gentle, life-giving drizzles. The long hair represents the rain as one can sometimes see it wisping down from the clouds, almost like a brush stroke. The red hair symbolizes his close affiliation with Taawa – the Sun- who is responsible for the rainbow represented in the band above his beard. (That also gives him his other name: Pala sowitsuni or Red Beard.) The feathers used on the katsina dancers are parrot for the parrot symbolizes the south – the direction from which the summer rains come.
Jared Quamahongnewa carved both these dolls.The Hahai Wuuhti is 9 inches high. $150 and in SANTA FE.
The Talavai'i or Eary Morning katsina is 9.5 inches high and $160. (TUCSON)
An Anakchina or Long Hair katsina, representing the nurturing summer rains. By Randy Brokeshoulder. 14.5 inches high and $425. (SANTA FE)
A Hilili by Brendan Kayquoptewa. 13 inches high. $280. (SANTA FE)
By Randy Brokeshoulder, this Ye'ivitshai katsina is 11 inches high. $275. (SANTA FE)
A Crow Mother carved by Sandra Suhu, the most talented Hopi woman carver. 11.5 inches high & $325 (SANTA FE)
Maasaw, by Randy Brokeshoulder. 13 inches high. $270. (SANTA FE)
Pronounced mah sah’u, is the powerful and important personage associated with the underworld, or more accurately, the spirit world where one’s spirit returns after death. Maasaw is also the being who gave the Hopi the land that is now their home.
A Soyok Wuuhti carved by Nick Brokeshoulder, she stands 13 inches high. $300 (SANTA FE)
A Wuuyaqqötö, by Wayland Namingha Jr. This is one of the guard katsinas, known in Hopi as the Tuwalakum. They perform a number of functions, including brandishing yucca whips to keep spectators at a distance as the Katsinas proceed to and from the plaza where the ceremonies are held. His name literally means "wide head" but is usually translated as broadface.) 12.5 inches high. SOLD (TUCSON)
A Pang or Black Ram katsina by Jared Quamahongnewa. 16.5 to the very tip of the feather (otherwise 11.5 inches. $300. (TUCSON)
A Kuwan Patsok or fancy Cockleburr katsina, by Gene Lalo. 9 inches high. $250. (SANTA FE)
A Qöqöle katsina by Randy Brokeshoulder. 11.25 inches high. $300. (SANTA FE)
A Talavai'i katsina by Nick Brokeshoulder. 16 5/8 inches high. $375. (SANTA FE)
This particular katsina usually appears about dawn, (hence the English translation of his name) carrying a small spruce tree in one hand and a bell in the other, singing in a high, almost falsetto voice. He bears rainclouds symbols on his cheeks and is regarded by many Hopi as one of the more beautiful katsinas, both for his appearance and his voice.
A Kyarkatsina or Parrot katsina by Brendan Kayquoptewa. 10 inches high and $280. (SANTA FE)
The Kyarkatsina (pronounced kyash katsina) represents the spirit of the parrot – traded up from the jungles of Mexico far to the south for centuries. The brilliant feathers of the Scarlet Macaw are highly prized among the Pueblo Indians and the bird itself is associated with the summer rains that also come up from the south.