Gilcrease Museum is temporarily closed for construction.

Get the Full Story

Wooden kachina / Native American; Zuni

Essay/Description

Wooden Kachina. Carved Koyemsi (Hatashoka) assistant. Black fabric dress with white cotton string for belt. Nickel-plated bells at back. Black yarn at right wrist, bare feet. Knots on top of head, side, forehead, and back. Moveable arms and feet.

Kachinas are spirits that represent vital components of Hopi and Zuni life, history, and values, including rain, animals, plants, people, and germination. Hopi men make kachina dolls with intricate details that match the physical manifestation of the spirits. The dolls are carved from pieces of cottonwood root and then painted, originally with paint made from minerals and vegetables, and now, often from acrylic paint. Kachina dolls are given to infants, children, and women on special occasions, including birth, initiation, and marriage, and are used “to familiarize them with the kachinas’ characteristics” and “to assure to the recipient the benefits of intimate associate with the Hopi and Zuni supernaturals” (Furst and Furst 1982, 30). The dolls teach children the power of ceremony and of legends and Hopi history.

You may be interested in...

Title(s): 
Wooden kachina; Zuni Doll
Culture: 
Native American; Zuni
Date: 
early 20th century
Period: 
Historic
Materials/Techniques: 
wood, pigment, wool, cotton string, feathers, metal bells
Classification: 
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
84.2683
Department: 
On View

Our Online Collections site is a work in progress. If you have information about this item that may be of assistance, please contact us.