Seated Tachukti - Mudhead Katsina Doll Carving a Katsina Doll [SOLD]


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Sheldon Talas (ca. 1940s)

It is not unusual for this doll to be called a “Mudhead Katsina” or a “Koyemsi” as those are names that have been used for a hundred years or more.  Barton Wright states that it is not considered a katsina at Hopi and that Mudhead and Koyemsi are both nicknames. Wright states that Tachukti is the correct name, Tachukti being the name of a clown, however, Wright says that they are not clowns in the sense we normally consider a clown.  It will, however, always be called a Mudhead as that name is not likely to go away.

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.

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.

Sheldon Talas (ca. 1940s ) signatureThis katsina doll is illustrated in the process of carving a katsina doll.  He has misplaced his knife, however.  Once, completed, the doll will be presented to a young girl as a gift from the katsinas.

Sheldon Talas was born around 1940 and lives at Polacca, at the base of First Mesa.  He has been an award winner at the annual Hopi Show at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff.

Condition: this Seated Tachukti - Mudhead Katsina Doll Carving a Katsina Doll is in very good condition

Provenance: was in inventory at the Popovi Da Studio at San Ildefonso Pueblo at the time it was permanently closed.  Passed through the family to a granddaughter of Popovi Da from whom we received it.

Recommended Reading: Hopi Katsina 1,600 Artist Biographies by Gregory Schaaf

Close up view of the Mudhead

Sheldon Talas (ca. 1940s)
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