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Kachina Doll (Kokopol, Kokopelli)

Arts of the Americas

In the southwestern United States, a supernatural being that represents a life-force or embodies a natural phenomenon such as the sun, the moon, a plant, or an animal is called a koko by the Zuni and a katsina (commonly anglicized as “kachina”) by the Hopi. Such beings have the power to control rainfall, crop growth, and fertility; to cure and protect; and to act as messengers between the gods and human beings. Carved kachina figures, also known as kachina dolls, are representations of these spirits and can have a sacred or an educational purpose. During some ceremonies, the carvings are given to community members to reward virtuous behavior, recognize a recent marriage, or teach children about religion. In the 1800s, a lively market for the carvings developed among non-Native collectors and tourists, giving rise to the elaborate art form that flourishes today.
CULTURE Hopi Pueblo
MEDIUM Wood, pigment, feathers, cotton cord
DATES late 19th century
DIMENSIONS 6 11/16 × 3 1/16 × 1 3/4 in. (17 × 7.8 × 4.4 cm)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 04.297.5595
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1904, Museum Collection Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This Kachina represents Kokopelli, who has a hump back. He has several functions and appears during Ang'wa, the Kachina night dances held in March during the religious cycle. He appears either by himself or with mixed Kachinas. He represents a fertility spirit, for assisting the growth and sustaining abundant life for all -plants and humans. Normally represented as wearing no clothes as seen here. His penis is normally shown as a mark of respect for his fertility powers. This Kokopelli has the rounded form with a humpback (representing the seeds he carries. Helmet style mask, black with pointed nose, oval eyes open on the sides and dots for eyebrows. PR arm is raised; PL arm has been broken off and pinned back on. His chest and back are primarily yellow with red legs and painted black boots. Orange feathers are on top of his head.
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