On a series of mesas in Northern Arizona, the Hopi people have lived for centuries. The men of these mesas have, since their people began, carved wooden dolls, or likenesses, of the sacred spirits, the Katsinas. These dolls were originally carved, as they are today, to instruct the children of the tribe in the ways of the Hopi religion. The women are not allowed to take part in the kiva and dance ceremonies where the men lend their bodies to the spirit of the Katsinas, dress as the spiritual beings and perform exact dances that have been passed down for centuries to bring blessings to the people. For an article written by Chester Poleyestewa, a Hopi carver, about these original dolls, click here.
Today, Katsina dolls are also carved as works of art. Some of the Navajo people have taken up this art and embellish their dolls with feathers and leather. Generally the Hopi carve their dolls from a single piece of cottonwood root, the tree whose roots always search for water, a rare and special commodity in Hopi land. The spelling of the word "Katsinas" (Katcinas, Kachinas) has been disputed for many years, but the Hopi prefer the spelling "Katsinas." Therefore, except when otherwise titled by the artist or an author, we will use the spelling "Katsinas."
The following are only a few of the Katsinas we currently show in the gallery. If you are looking for a special carving or the work of a particular artist, please let us know and we will do our best to find the perfect piece for you.