Sio Hemis Katsina Doll from Hopi Pueblo [SOLD]


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Artist Unknown

The Hemis and Sio Hemis Katsinas are probably the most beautiful and best known of all Hopi Katsinas. Their elaborate headdress, called a tableta, is partly responsible for their attraction. They both wear a kilt, and, around the waist, a Hopi embroidered sash.

The Sio Hemis Katsina is an import at Hopi from Zuni Pueblo, probably in the late 1800s.  He may substitute for the traditional Hopi Hemis during the Niman Ceremony of mid-July. There is very little difference between the Hemis and Sio Hemis except for the decoration of the tableta.  The Hopi Hemis has towering clouds and rain depicted on the tableta, while the Sio Hemis has dragonflies and sunflowers with smaller clouds at the top.

The Niman ceremony mentioned above is the going-home ceremony of the katsinas, shortly after the summer solstice. It closes the Katsina season. The date of the Niman is set when the sun reaches its northernmost point. Four days later, the ceremony begins. Sixteen days after that, the plaza dance of the Niman ceremony is presented. The Niman includes two dance processions during the day, after which the katsinas make gift presentations to the audience and depart the village until the following year. Many katsinas may be selected for the Niman, but quite often the Hemis or Sio Hemis is selected because they are spectacular looking and their songs are popular.

This carving is probably from the early 1940s, based on having been painted with tempera paints rather than acrylic paints. We have shown the back of the katsina doll because there is a vertical crack in the wood from the top of the mask to the bottom of the kilt.  This usually occurs if the cottonwood root is not sufficiently dried before carving. It is not unusual for a carver to leave the root in the sun for a year or longer to insure cracking does not occur.  Fortunately, the crack is in the back of the doll.

Condition: this Sio Hemis Katsina Doll from Hopi Pueblo is in very good condition with a crack in the wood as stated above.

Provenance: from the collection of a gentleman from Santa Fe who is moving to California and downsizing his collection before departure.

Recommended Reading: Kachinas a Hopi Artist’s Documentary by Barton Wright with original paintings by Cliff Bahnimptewa

Artist Unknown
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