A wooden sculpture of a figure with green and orange feathers and robes.

Hopi Katsina

The Heard Museum’s collection of Hopi katsina dolls includes early examples from the late 1800s. Katsina dolls are carvings of religious figures, traditionally presented as gifts to babies and girls during ceremonies held in February and July. They are given with a prayer-wish for future growth and well-being. In addition to this traditional purpose, katsina dolls are carved for sale.

Hopi katsina dolls are made from cottonwood root. Over the years, the general style of carving and painting has changed. Katsina doll carvings from the turn of the 20th century often have a solid body with legs and arms defined but not separate. They may have a neck ruff of Douglas fir and carefully embroidered or appliquéd clothing, and they are painted with mineral pigments. Carvers working a few decades later, in the mid-1900s, created Katsina dolls in poses that suggest movement. They are colorful, using various types of poster paint or oil-based paint to indicate clothing. Some are carefully feathered and ornamented.

More recent katsina dolls continue to be examples of action sculpture. They may be entirely carved of wood, with all the details of feathers, hair, clothes and plants incised into the wood. These newest katsina doll carvings often are finished with a stain that permits the wood grain to show through.

Hopi Katsina Doll Highlights

  • A sculpture with feathers holding a bag and cattails.
    Mark Taho, Hopi/Diné, b. 1972, Bearing Gifts, 2021. Gift of Sharron Lewis, 4987-1.
  • A wooden sculpture of a turkey figure with wings.
    Ros George, Hopi, b. 1948, Turkey katsina doll carving, 1988. Gift of Ruth and Sid Schultz, 4513-3
  • A sculpture of a figure with horns on his head.
    Brian Honyouti, Hopi, 1947-2016, Nata’aska or Ogre katsina doll carving, 1998. Heard Museum purchase, 3733-1
  • A sculpture of a figure wearing a robot mask and a sweater hold a green object in its hand.
    Michael Dean Jenkins, Hopi/Akimel O’odham, b. 1959, Kwikwilyaka or Mocking katsina doll carving, 1996-1998. Gift of Neil and Sarah Berman, 4750-4
  • A wooden sculpture of a figure with green and orange feathers and robes.
    Arvin Saufkie, Hopi, b. 1977, Muy’ingwa katsina doll carving, 2012. Gift of Helen C. Kersting, 4801-3
  • A doll with a feathered headdress on a black background.
    Artist once known, Hopi, Ahöla katsina doll carving, early 1900s. Gift of Senator Barry M. Goldwater, NA-SW-HO-F-127
  • A sculpture of a cow with feathers and horns.
    Artist once known, Hopi, Wakaskatsina or Cow katsina doll carving, 1930s-1940s. Gift of Senator Barry M. Goldwater, NA-SW-HO-F-327

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