Hopi Third Mesa Hon Katsina, Black Bear Kachina Doll [SOLD]


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Once Known Native American Carver

This exquisite carving of a Black Bear or Hon katsina is of the version that Harold Colton describes as from Third Mesa villages. Colton's description is "Black mask, blue line below pop eyes, red streak on side, and black bear tracks." The red streak on sides likely refers to the red lines on the blue band on the eyes. The bear tracks on this one were painted blue because black tracks would not show up on a black mask.

The doll has a painted spot on the chest and pink colors on both arms. He wears traditional red moccasins, embroidered sash, and white kilt. His snout displays teeth. Two bundled groups of feathers are attached to his head.

According to Barton Wright, "There are a number of Bear Kachinas. Some are distinguished only by color such as the Blue, White, Yellow or Black Bear Kachina. . . All Bear Kachina are believed to be very powerful and capable of curing bad illnesses. They are also great warriors. Bear Kachinas appear most often in the Soyohim or Mixed Dances of springtime or occasionally as side dancers for the Chakwaina Kachina. [Wright, 1977:102]

Barton Wright further provides us with an interesting explanation of the importance of Animal katsinas. "THE ANIMALS ARE the advisors, doctors and assistants of the Hopi. It is through the assistance of the animals that the Hopi have overcome monsters and cured strange diseases. In fact, the greatest doctor of them all is the Badger for it is he who knows all of the roots and herbs and how to administer them. The Bear shares in this ability. Other animals are warriors and know the ways of danger and can aid the men in becoming like them. All animals, however, share one attribute which is that they 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, smoking and discussing serious matters. They are the Hopi's closest neighbors and are always willing to assist if approached in a proper manner and asked for help. When prayer feathers and meal are not given they often withdraw until proper behavior is forthcoming. The Animal Kachinas thus represent the relationship present between the Hopi and the kachina spirits which some may compare to a true friendship on the human level. It involves an exchange of special favors in their interaction, accompanied by an exchange of respectful gestures." ibid, p.98

What is a Katsina? 

Condition: very good condition

Provenance: this Hopi Third Mesa Hon Katsina, Black Bear Kachina Doll is from the collection of a client from the East Coast


- Colton, Harold S. Hopi Kachina Dolls with a Key to their Identification, p.40.

-Wright, Barton. Hopi Kachinas Hopi Kachinas: The Complete Guide to Collecting Kachina Dolls,1977.

TAGS: Kachina – Katsina DollHopi Pueblo

Alternate close up view of this Bear Katsina Doll carving.

Once Known Native American Carver
C4708A-bear.jpgC4708A-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.