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.
Above is a Wiharu or White Ogre carved by Ranier Koruh. He usually appears during the Bean Ceremony or Powamu in February. It measures approximately 15.5 inches high, $260.
All by Kevin Quanimptewa, each is about 3 inches high and $75. All in Tucson. From left to right, top to bottom: Cricket Girl, Cricket, Hahai;i Wuuhti, Snow Maiden, Qöqöle and Kevin himself!
click for larger images
A Wuyak Kuita or Broadface katsina, one of the whipper/guard katsinas, by Nick Brokeshoulder. 19" high and $450. (SANTA FE)
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 Hilili (oneof the guard katsinas) by Randy Brokeshoulder 14 3/4 inches high and $430. (SANTA FE)
A Patung or Sqaush katsina by Clark Tenakhongva, who was one of the first groups of Hopi carvers to revive the older style.This gourd katsina has a head made of an actual gourd. (SANTA FE)
Ryan Gashweseoma carved the Siwap or Blowing Sand katsina at right. Not often carved, it stands 11 inches high and is $300. (TUCSON)
Soyok Wuuhti, carved by Larry Melendez of the Butterfly Clan from Sitsom'ovi Village. 11 3/8" high and $325. (SANTA FE)
An Aya (Rattle) katsina by Larsen Harris Jr. He stands 8" to the tip of the tallest feathers, $180. (SANTA FE)
This particular katsina, the Paalölöqangw represents the Water Serpent who in turn stands for the water that flows, seen and unseen (underground) and is believed to travel those waterways, occasionally emerging at a spring. He also appears during the Lölöqangw in the kiva with the Koyemsi or Mudhead katsinas. Carved by Randy Howato. It stands 13 inches high and is $425. (SANTA FE)
At left is Lightning Longhair or Talwip’angaktsina katsina, also by Ryan. 9.5 inches high. $300. (TUCSON)
A wawarus or runner katsina, called Navantsìitsiklàwqa , carved by Brandon Kayquoptewa. 6 inches high. $120. The old style Sikya Matya by Ramson Lomatewama. 6.25 inches. $110. (SANTA FE)
Navantsìitsiklàwqa (tears-your-shirt) or Tuutsìitsiklàwqa (tears-your-clothes) is one of the Wawarus or Runner katsinas who challenge Hopi men to races to encourage them to be good runners. (There was a time when Hopi men planted fields some distance from home and had to run to ‘commute’ to their fields.) If they win, they receive a small basket with an eagle feather attached. If they lose, the wawarus katsina administers its own special form of punishment, which for the Navantsìitsiklàwqa means stripping you of some of your clothes – all if you don’t move fast enough.
The Soyok Mana (Ogre Maiden) is by Nick Brokeshoulder. 12 inches high and $250.
The Kanaskatsin,or Sunset Crater katsina (also Kana’a in Hopi) was carved by Randy Brokeshoulder. 12 inches high. $320.
The Kana’a katsinam once lived near Paalatsomo or Sunset Crater, outside present-day Flagstaff, Arizona. There is a Hopi tale of a young woman from Musangnovi village who married a Kana’a katsina. It is a long story but ends with the Kanaskatsinam coming to end a drought and famine (bringing magical sweet corn) and agreeing to live near the Hopi – in a butte that is named for them. From that date until the early 1900s, a Kanaskatsina dance was held every year. This katsina appears only infrequently at present and when he does he carries sweet corn as a reminder of how they saved the Hopi.