Hopi Katsina: Evolving Styles, Enduring Meanings

If you’re visiting or live in the Southwest, you’ve likely encountered brightly painted, carved figurines in gift shops. To the average non-Native, “kachina dolls” are a beautiful representation of Southwest Native American culture. To Hopi and Zuni people, however, Katsina is a religion and a way of life. The symbolism inherent in these objects, which are commonly sold as souvenirs, is complex and dates as early as the mid-18th century. Beginning on October 19th, 2021, a temporary Moab Museum exhibit and demonstrations featuring Hopi carvers offer a view into the cultural significance and artistry of Katsina.


Explore the language of Katsina culture...






Katsina spirits:

Spiritual beings who support or chastise humankind. They are omnipresent, existing in everything: earth, plant and animal life, the clouds in the sky, and the planets and stars above.



Katsinam (plural) dancers:

Initiated Hopi men who impersonate Katsina spirits in sacred ceremonies. During specific times of the year, Katsina participants are believed to become sacred entities that embody the Katsina spirits. They appear in underground kivas to an audience of tribal members, and in the village plaza to the entire community.


Katsintihu (singular) / katsintithu (plural):

Carved wood figures. Hopi believe these objects embody the Katsina dancers/participants. Technically, katsintithu are not “dolls”, rather, they are teaching tools displayed in homes as a reminder of the spirits they represent.


We are excited to welcome several Hopi artists as well, who will be demonstrating their carving technique and speaking with visitors. Check the calendar to explore upcoming demonstration dates:

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