Hopi Pueblo Wakas Katsina, Cow Kachina Doll

C4619C-kachina.jpg

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Carver Unknown
  • Category: Traditional
  • Origin: Hopi Pueblo, Hopituh Shi-nu-mu
  • Medium: cottonwood, paints, feathers, string, leather, yarn
  • Size: 9-¼” tall
  • Item # C4619C
  • Price: $1500

This Cow or Wakas Katsina doll was made by an unidentified Hopi artist in the 1950s. Wakas seems to have first appeared in the Hopi pantheon of katsinam around 1900 and has appeared regularly since.  Animal katsinam represent a relationship between the Hopi and the katsina spirits, which some may compare to a true friendship on the human level.  This relationship involves an exchange of special favors—the Hopi provide respect through offerings of prayer feathers and meals in exchange for favors granted by the recipient.

Animals are advisors, doctors, and assistants to the Hopi.  It is through them that the Hopi have overcome adversity and cured strange diseases.  Some animals are warriors who know the ways of danger and can aid the men in becoming like them.  It is thought that all animals can remove their skins at will and hang them up like clothes.  When they do, they appear exactly as men, sitting about in their kivas.  Animals are the Hopi’s closest neighbors and are always willing to assist if approached in a proper manner and asked for help.  The proper manner in this case means making prayer feathers.

This particular depiction of Wakas is notably elaborate and detailed. His eyes, ears, horns, and snout protrude from his mask in a sharp, dramatic fashion, drawing the viewer’s eyes to his own. He conveys significance and commands attention but remains friendly and approachable. This Wakas stands comfortably on two feet, but he could also be hung from the wall.  Additional adornments of leather, string, and feathers complete the artist’s thorough presentation. This is an outstanding example of mid-century katsina doll carving.

What is a Kachina?


Condition: excellent condition

Provenance: this Hopi Pueblo Wakas Katsina, Cow Kachina Doll is from a private California collection

Reference:  Hopi Kachinas: The Complete Guide to Collecting Kachina Dolls by Barton Wright

TAGS: Katsina DollsHopi PuebloHopi Kachina Dolls

Alternate close-up view of the Cow Kachina face.