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.
For each katsina we sell, we provide an information sheet similar to the ones above. (both of these have been sold)
All three by Darance Chimerica of the Fire Clan: A Kwéwkatsina or Wolf katsina, ~10 inches high and $275. A Maakvaho and Talavai’i or Early Morning katsina, each one is 10.25 inches high and $300. All in Santa Fe.
The Kwéwkatsina or Wolf katsina is one of the hunter/warrior katsinas who generally function as guards, along with the Mountain Lion katsina. He often appears at the end of a line of horned animal katsinas. This style Maakavaho is the oldest version of the the Maakkatsinam or Hunter Katsinas.
Not an Eagle katsina, but an Eagle Dancer. Meticulously carved and detailed by Gene Dawahoya. It stands 7.5 inches high. Note the interesting detailed he added: he two ancient pottery vessels in a cleft under the cliff edge. $1500. (TUCSON)
A Kokosori or Solaawitsi by Larry Melendez of the Butterfly Clan. 11 inches high and $320.
Sólàawitsi is a katsina the Hopi adopted and adapted from the Zuni, where he is known as Kokosori and called “Little Fire God” in English because at Zuni he carries a cedar bark torch when he appears at night during the Winter Salako ceremony. At Hopi he appears during the summer dances. In both cases he carries seeds for planting crops in a fawn skin on his back.
A Pang or Black Ram katsina by Jared Quamahongnewa. 16.5 to the very tip of the feather (otherwise 11.5 inches). $300. (TUCSON)
The Mountain Sheep was important to the Hopi as the horns were used for a variety of purposes, from religious to utensils, notably ladles. The horns were generally acquired in trade from the Hualapai - Havasupai people to the west of them, occupying the region in and around the Grand Canyon.) As with all the horned animals, when they appear as a group in a ceremony they are accompanied by Mountain or Wolf katsinas – or Lalayhoya (Herder Boy).
At right is a Herder Boy (Lalàyhoya) by Nick Brokeshoulder. 15.25 inches high to tallest feather tip and $250. (SANTA FE)
This particular katsina is based upon a Hopi folktale about a small boy who had been ignored then largely abandoned by his mother. The animals took pity on him and raised him. When he reached adulthood they told him to return home to his mother. If she recognized and welcomed him, then he would rejoin the village and live as a human. If not, he would become and remain a katsina. He returned, she did not recognize him and so he became a katsina – one who may appear when any of the various animal katsinas appear.
A Kokopelli Mana, also by Nick Brokeshoulder. 10.25 inches high. $170 (SANTA FE)
This is the mana or maiden version of Kokkopelli. She like her male counterpart, often engages in outrageous behaviour. Any man present at the katsina dance whom she can catch or corner can be the target of her actions and amorous intent, much to the delight of spectators.
Nick Brokeshoulder carved this Sio Salako , 24 inches high. $360 (SANTA FE)
The Salako with the mudhead dancer (13 inches high) and the very tall (22.5 inches high) Salako directly above were both carved by Duane Dishta (1946-2011), who was better known later in life as a very fine painter. The one at upper left is $1100 and the other $1800. (SANTA FE)
A Badger by Randy Brokeshoulder. 11.5 inches tall and wonderful feather work (as is true of all Randy’s work). $270. (SANTA FE)
An Early Morning (Talavai’i) katsina by Augustine Mowa. 9.5 inches high. $280 (TUCSON)
At right: The Toson Koyemsi (also called a Kuwan Koyempsi) is 1.45 inches to the tip of the feathers and was carved by Corey Ahonewa. $350. (TUCSON)
A Badger of Raynard Lalo. 11.5 inches to the tip of the feathers. $280. (TUCSON)
The Patzro - one of the tsiro or bird katsinas was carved by Nick Brokeshoulder, $250. (SANTA FE)
A Nata’aska by Randy Brokeshoulder. 14 inches high $475.(SANTA FE)
Nata’aska is one of the Sooyoko or so-called ogre katsinas, known collectively in Hopi as the Tuwalakum. Nata’aska accompanies Hahaiwuuhti, the katsina grandmother, during a day-time rite that is part of the Powamu or Bean Ceremony. It is during this rite when children are held to account for any mis-behaviour during the preceding year, with a view to correcting it in the future. Nata’aska, with his sword and saw is a fearsome presence designed to remind the children of what might happen if they do not behave.