Hopi Pueblo Large Hemis Kachina – Katsina Doll


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The Hopi live in a desert and rely solely on rain for their crops and animals.  It is to the Katsinas that the Hopi plea for rain.  In exchange for rain from the Katsinas, the Hopi present them with pahos (prayer feathers).  They do not ask for anything from the katsinas without giving something in return.

Although the Hemis Katsina may appear in any Katsina dance, they are best known for their participation in the Niman Ceremony, a ceremony where a large number of Hemis and Hemismana are the only katsinas represented.  The Hemis Katsina is most frequently selected for the Niman because he is a beautiful impersonation and his songs are popular with the Hopi.

The Niman or Home Ceremony performance, given shortly after the summer solstice, is the ceremony that closes the Katsina season.  The date of the Niman ceremony is set when the sun reaches its northernmost point.  The Niman ceremony was recently performed at Hotevilla on July 30, 2016.  It was the final dance of the Katsina season.

This version of the Hemis Katsina is large, measuring over 22 inches to the top of the tableta.  It is dressed in traditional Hemis attire.  Each step of the tableta traditionally has feathers tied to the tips but they have been removed in accordance with federal regulations.  The tableta is adorned with phallic symbols to indicate its fertility significance—fertility for crops, for animals and for humans.  The sun shield over the top of the face has a rainbow symbol perched on its top.

Katsina dolls of the scale of this one were frequently seen in trading posts, curio shops or other venues where they would attract the attention of tourists and collectors.  Often they would be for display only and labeled “not for sale.” 


Condition: this Hopi Pueblo Large Hemis Kachina - Katsina Doll is in very good condition with only minor wear pattern.

Provenance: from a long-time Santa Fe family.

Reference and Recommended ReadingKachinas—a Hopi Artist’s Documentary by Barton Wright with original paintings by Cliff Bahnimptewa

Close up view of Kachina face.