Hopi Typical Koyemsi (Mudhead) Katsina Doll [SOLD]


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Carver Unknown

There is a large variety of Koyemsi who differ in appearance and come for specific purposes who do not behave as clowns. There are perhaps two dozen different ones. There are those who may come to dance with a variety of katsinas. There are others who have equally important purposes but whose actions are nearly always accompanied by clowning. Because the functions of the Koyemsi span so many variations, it is not possible to separate them into clowning or non-clowning groups. Instead, their activities must be considered as a continuum made obvious by appearance. [Wright, 2004:80]

This Koyemsi is the typical one that is generally carved by the Hopi. This one with the spike on top of his head is the style introduced to Hopi from the Zuni and introduced by the name, Koyemsi. It is unsure why the Hopi adopted the Zuni version, but a possible reason is the prim Victorian mores of government employees, missionaries, and educators who found the almost non-existent clothing of the Hopi version to be offensive. Another reason is the Zuni version had less restrictive behavior than the Hopi version. [ibid:76]

This carving is an excellent example of the Koyemsi. It is almost 17 inches tall and presents good body proportions. His face features are excellent, bordering on the comical nature of the katsina. His cylindrical eyes and open mouth signify that he is up to mischief. He carries a club in his right hand. The scarf around his neck is worn by all Koyemsi. He has a fabric bag draped over his left shoulder and hanging off his right side. The brown body paint was layered on in mottled application to represent the less than smooth application of mud on the katsina's body. This rare attempt at reality is not usually seen in body paint. Such attention to detail is an indication of the seriousness of the carver's intent.

The carving is unsigned by the artist and appears to date to the 1940s.

What is a Kachina?

Condition: very good condition with some paint abrasions

Provenance: this Hopi Typical Koyemsi (Mudhead) Katsina Doll is from the collection of a gentleman from California

Reference: Clowns of the Hopi—Tradition Keepers and Delight Makers by Barton Wright

Recommended Reading: Kachinas: a Hopi artist’s documentary by Barton Wright

TAGS: Kachina – Katsina DollHopi Pueblo

Alternate close up view of the Mudhead face.

Carver Unknown
26309-kachina.jpg26309-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.