Hopi Pueblo Koyemsi, Mudhead Katsina Doll

C4364K-mudhead.jpg

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Carver Unknown

This Hopi Pueblo Koyemsi katsina doll was carved from cottonwood root in the traditional Hopi manner. He is also known as a Mudhead. It is basically an all-wood doll with minor additions such as the fabric scarf around his neck and the hide associated with the drum and drumstick.  He is a mid-twentieth century carving but is not signed with the name of the carver.

There are several Mudheads, differing slightly in appearance and conduct, maybe as many as 10 or so.  All wear knobbed masks of cotton cloth, stained with the same pink clay that is used on their bodies. The knobs of the masks are filled with cotton balls and seeds. Wrapped around the base of the mask is a scarf.  They dress solely in black cloth kilts.

At Hopi, he is a curer, magician, dance director, warrior, messenger, sage or even a fool.  He also may appear in the guise of any katsina by donning the clothing of that katsina. The Koyemsi appear as interlocutors between katsinas and humans. They serve religious and secular functions. They function as chiefs and as clowns at various times. They are probably the most popular and recognized of all masked dancers. They appear in almost every ceremony as clowns, drummers, announcers of dances, and many other roles.  The carver of this doll has shown him as a drummer, one of the functions he performs occasionally.

Condition: this Hopi Pueblo Koyemsi, Mudhead Katsina Doll is in very good condition with minor paint abrasions

Provenance: from the collection of Dr. Florence Hawley Ellis of Albuquerque, passed to her daughter and then to her granddaughter, the current owner. Florence Hawley Ellis (1906–1991) worked as both an ethnologist and archaeologist teaching at the University of New Mexico in 1934, teaching courses on archaeology and cultural anthropology until her retirement  in 1971.

Recommended Reading: Clowns of the Hopi: Tradition Keepers and Delight Makers by Barton Wright

Relative Links: Hopi Pueblo, Katsina Dolls

Close up view of the head of the mudhead.


Carver Unknown
C4364K-mudhead.jpgC4364K-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.