Volume 7: Hopi Katsina
1,600 Artist Biographies
This volume profiles over 1,600 Hopi Katsina carvers from 1840 to the present. Although Katsina dolls began to be signed in the 1930s, earlier carvers were identified from family tree charts, historic documents and oral history interviews with direct descendants. This book was designed to make the vast body of research readily available.
Hopi Katsina dolls are traditionally small wooden figures hand carved from cottonwood roots and painted with natural earth pigments. The term Katsina has three translations: one of more than 300 spiritual beings; a society of spiritual singers and dancers; and small wooden figures also called Tihu. The original purpose of Katsina dolls is to educate children about their ancestral religious traditions stretching back over a thousand years ago.
Today, most Hopi Katsina carvers live around three mesas in northern Arizona about a hundred miles from the Grand Canyon. Many live in stone villages considered the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. Hopi spirituality is still strong. New songs are being inspired through dreams. Their ancient ceremonial cycle stands unbroken. Hundreds of Katsina dancers fill their plazas at precise times of the year. Katsina Societies remain active.