Rushlight - handmade HOPI KACHINA DOLLS
The Hopi Indians are the westernmost of the pueblo peoples and live in twelve villages set on the three mesas in northeastern Arizona. As farmers, the Hopi are dependant on the weather for successful crops, and have been contending with the harsh, unpredictable weather patterns of the Southwest for over 20OO years. To grow crops, particularly corn, in their semiarid land the Hopis believe it is absolutely essential to have the supernaturals on their side. However, the Hopis do not approach their supernaturals as other cultures do. The Hopis feel that their supernaturals have certain powers which they do not have, and that the Hopi, in turn, possess things which their supernaturals desire. Thus, quite often, Hopi rituals are mutual gift-giving ceremonies. The supernaturals desire prayer feathers, corn pollen and various rituals, and the Hopis like rain, so this mutual exchange works out very well for both parties.
Hopi Kachinas are supernaturals, embodying the spirits of living things and also the spirits of ancestors who have died and become a part of nature. Kachinas are believed to possess powers over nature, especially the weather, but higher gods limit the extent of their powers.
To Hopis, it is essential to preserve harmony with the world around them, not only with humans and other animals but with objects in nature such as rocks, clouds, sky, etc., which the Hopis believe to be possessed of life. Since the Kachinas embody these spirits they are the spiritual guardians of the Hopi people and their way of life. And since they can ensure human, animal and plant fertility, they ensure life itself. Hopi men carve likenesses of the Kachinas from cottonwood root, and these are the well—known Katsina dolls of special interest to collectors.
In the yearly cycle of religious ceremonies, Kachina dances are preeminent. In the Hopi dances, the Kachinas are personated by Hopi men, age ten to eighty. The Hopis feel that when they impersonate a Kachina they become the supernatural. As the supernaturals they may cure disease, grow corn, bring clouds, watch over ceremonies and reinforce discipline and order in the Hopi world. Katsina doll carving has evolved into an elaborate art form, and the carvings themself range in styles from small, flat cradle dolls used to protect children, to full human-form carvings from a single block of wood, to stylized, free—form representations that symbolically represent the Kachina form. Ciro's mom is Hopi and he has been carving katsinas since the early 1980's, these are some of his carvings. All are available for purchase or can be special ordered.