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.