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Rare Hopi Hahai-i-Wuhti Katsina Doll in Cradle

C3953K-cradle.jpg

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  • Category: Traditional
  • Origin: Hopi Pueblo
  • Medium: wood, paint, oak, scrub sumac, string
  • Size:
    7-3/4” x 2-3/4” katsina doll;
    10-1/2” x 4-1/2” cradle
  • Item # C3953K
  • Price: $1,050.00

Hahai-i-Wuhti is portrayed as a sprightly grandmother, and she is the mother of all katsinas with a number of functions, one of which is the principle actor in the Water Serpent Ceremony. She is a very energetic, sprightly, talkative being.  It is her representation in doll form that is given to the very young Hopi babies and captive eagles. Her actions reflect her role overseeing the growth and proper behavior of children, so doll carvers often create her effigy as the first present a baby receives.

This Hopi doll was carved from a single piece of wood and painted with commercial paints.  It is not signed with a maker’s name, which is typical of dolls made for presentation, and not for sale.  

The cradle for the katsina doll is named taapu in Hopi.  The outer frame is made of oak and extends the entire length of the cradle and is bent in a U shape. The warps and weft are constructed from scrub sumac branches.

The wicker cradle was originally colored with red, green and yellow dyes, but age has faded them. The cradle probably dates to the first quarter of the 20th century.  The katsina doll could be a later piece, perhaps dating to the second quarter of the 20th century.

Among Hopi material, this doll size wicker cradle with a doll strapped in is a relatively rare find, particularly of this age and in such excellent condition.


Condition: both doll and cradle are in very good condition with some expected wear.

Provenance: this Rare Hopi Hahai-i-Wuhti Katsina Doll in Cradle is from the collection of a family from Oklahoma

Recommended Reading:  Kachinas: A Hopi Artist's Documentary by Barton Wright

Alternate side view.

  • Category: Traditional
  • Origin: Hopi Pueblo
  • Medium: wood, paint, oak, scrub sumac, string
  • Size:
    7-3/4” x 2-3/4” katsina doll;
    10-1/2” x 4-1/2” cradle
  • Item # C3953K
  • Price: $1,050.00

C3953K-cradle.jpgC3953K-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.