These cool figures are called Katsina dolls, the traditional spiritual carvings of the Hopi American Indians. Each doll represents a Katsinam, the spirit messengers of the universe which are central to Hopi beliefs. There are thought to be between 300-500 different Katsina spirits in the Hopi religion which all have their own representations.
The dolls are carved by initiated tribesmen and given to Hopi girls at different stages of their childhood. Each katsina represents a spirit, some in the form of an animal such as a scorpion or snake, and others represent natural element such as rain or snow. Each doll is given at different points of a girls childhood to teach her about specific Hopi beliefs and traditions. The dolls are first given at infancy and then often presented by male dancers dressed as the same spirit during ceremonial dances.
Our collection of dolls were made by master artist Vernon Mansfield who sadly passed away last month at nearly 80 years old. Vernon was part of a movement to revive the traditional style of the craft and we fell in love with his use of vivid colour and pattern in his work.
The dolls are traditionally carved using the root of cottonwood trees which are significant to the Hopi as the roots seek out water which is in short supply in their arid southern lands. Each of these katsina is a unique piece of art that exemplifies the artistic skills and spiritual nature of the Hopi tribe.
You can buy the dolls here.