There are hundreds of Hopi Katsinam, "personations" of supernatural
beings, important animals and ancestors who help the Hopi people raise
their crops, their children, and their spirits. The Katsina dancers are
men wearing masks--each of which represents a particular Katsina--and
paint and feathered costumes. Everyone in the village, aside from the
children, knows that the Katsina dancers are actually men from the
village, though Katsinam are still believed to have supernatural powers.
Much of the value in these dances is found to be instructing the young.
Signed and numbered.
Hopi Full Figure Kachinas
dolls are an important and cherished part of the Hopi culture. These
dolls are representations of one of the hundreds of Katsinam, or Hopi
spirit guides, who are believed to live primarily in the San Francisco
Peaks of Arizona. They descend from the mountains as the winter season
wanes to help villagers tend to the fields, care for the children, and
tackle any other major task required to encourage the community and land
to flourish. The Katsinam stay through late July when the planting and
growing seasons have ended. At that time they take their leave of the
Hopi and return to their home in the mountains of Arizona. During the
time that the Katsinam are visiting the Hopi villages, numerous dances
are held to both celebrate a particular natural event or remind the
people of the village of the significant presence of the Katsinam, and
to help the children learn about these sacred beings and what each of
them represents. During these dances, the Hopi men will don costumes and
will "personate" an individual Katsina, which is represented by a
specific mask, color patterns and physical characteristics. Full-figure
Katsinam are carved, to represent a specific Katsina and to help the
child become acquainted with that particular spirit. These full-figure
carvings, referred to as dolls, are carefully carved from the strong,
light root of the cottonwood tree and then painted with the particular
colors of the specific Katsina the doll represents.