Posted onAuthorAmy D. GrayComments Off on My collection of Katsina dolls and related items.
I still feel weird calling them dolls. A few of mine are of a toy-like style as I know them; most are not. One is what I would call art. But “doll” seems to be the accepted term. So, it’s “doll”. I will do my best to say everything I know about each piece. Unfortunately, that’s not all I know about my jewelry collection. But hey, I’ve only been collecting katsina dolls for a few years now. I am certainly no expert.
I’ll start with this little guy.
Mrs. Pooley’s dolls are made in what is called the Route 66 style and resemble the katsina dolls sold to tourists in Fred Harvey stores across the Southwest in the first half of the 20th century. Mrs. Pooley is the only Hopi woman I know who creates katsina dolls.
Male and female Katsinas are performed in Katsina dances by costumed male dancers. One way to tell them apart is to look at their shoes. Katsina women (Katsin Mana) wear white shoes. Male Katsinas (Katsin Taka) usually wear turquoise blue or sometimes a reddish tint.
Quick tip for collectors of art, antiques and other things – a small “black light” UV flashlight is good for detecting repairs, artificial pigments and “enhanced” or stabilized gemstones. Glues, heat treated and/or dyed stones, added plastic resins and artificial pigments will glow brilliantly under UV light. These flashlights are used to locate scorpions and all sorts of things, and are sold by hardware stores and big box retailers.
There are hundreds of Katsinas, who can embody everything from specific gods and deified humans to animals, plants, weather, and even abstract concepts. When a Hopi dons the costume of a Katsina, they also adopt that Katsina’s personality and state of mind. He becomes the Katsina he embodies in dance.
The Katsina religion is practiced by several Southwestern Native American tribes, including the Hopi, Zuni, and Tewa tribes. Katsinas have no spiritual meaning to Navajo people, but Navajo artists create katsina dolls for sale to collectors. Navajo katsina dolls have a distinctly different look to those of the peoples for whom the Katsinas are a vital part of their religion and culture.
The Navajos, however, have their own spiritual beings, called Yei’i. Which are sometimes depicted in weavings, sand paintings, jewelry, and carved images. While the Katsina religion revolves around a set ceremonial calendar, Yei’i ceremonies are held as needed.
Morning Singer Katsinas stand on the rooftops at dawn, singing to the rising sun to wake the village to a new day.
Finally, my favorite Katsina doll, and a Zuni jewel representing Tawa, the Katsina of the Sun.
The Supai are a neighboring tribe living near Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon. Many shrines and sacred sites of different Southwestern tribes are located in the Grand Canyon, and there has always been interaction (and sometimes friction) between the different peoples who live and visit there. This katsina doll’s face mask has distinctive geometric patterns that appear on other Hopi depictions of the Supai people.
I was paid quite well for my efforts to restore it. But I still hated having to return it to its owner. He owns a thrift store, selling mostly furniture and appliances, but also occasionally works of art. I had already done cleaning and restoration work for him. I didn’t think to ask how much he would sell this one. I was pretty sure that, although it was fixed, I couldn’t afford it. So I packed it up carefully, returned it, got my money back, and drove home feeling sorry for myself.
Until the next Yule, where my husband (who also does repairs on the guy’s devices) returned it to me. Whenever I’m tempted to damn him for an ignorant, callous moron, I’m reminded that he isn’t always. Not always.
I hope you enjoyed viewing my collection as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you.
Thanks for the reading. This is an open topic, all topics are welcome.
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