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Katsina Dolls are a carved representation of the Katsinam, the messengers between the Pueblo people and their deities. Katsina dolls were originally made solely for religious purposes. According to Hopi tradition, katsina dolls are carved by the Katsinam when they visit the villages to sing and dance for moisture and the good of the world. The dolls are distributed to children during ceremonies and the parents use them to teach their children about their Hopi culture and religious beliefs.
Katsina dolls were originally carved with a stone knife from cottonwood root, as it will not crack and is soft and easy to carve. They were smoothed out by rubbing them with a sandstone rock and were painted and decorated with the colors of the cardinal directions from vegetal and mineral pigments.
As Hopi isolation broke down in the 19th century, Anglos visited the Hopi mesas more frequently and began to take an interest in the brightly colored wood figurines. Hopi men fulfilled the demand of tourists and collectors by carving katsina dolls for commercial purposes starting in the late 1800s. The development of the Katsina doll carving has seen great changes in the last 100 years. In the early 1900s, the “Late Traditional” style dolls started to have a smoother appearance as sandpaper and commercial paints became available.
The traditional abstract representation of the Katsinam in the early katsina dolls were slowly replaced by more realistic renderings and the wooden figures began to transform into recognizable human bodies portrayed in the act of dancing. According to some traditional carvers, Katsina dolls were intended to be simple expressions of the spirits and not precise renditions of the physical attributes. This was likely one of the reasons the old doll style was brought back in the late 1970s. Many Katsina doll carvers believe that carving is not just an art form, it is a tradition and it is spiritual.
Many Native American traditions recognize a special connection to nature, which includes the integral belief that all things have a spirit. One such example are Zuni Fetishes, which are palm-sized stone carvings, physical representations of animals that hold spiritual importance. The Fetish creation is part of the Zuni faith and is intended to help mankind reconnect with higher powers.
During an excavation in 2007, of an Ancestral Puebloan habitation site on the edge of the Colorado River, an eagle fetish was discovered connecting today's Zuni people with their ancestors who once lived nearly a thousand years ago at the bottom of Grand Canyon.
Fetishes' purpose remains the same today as it did in the beginning, to assist humans, the most vulnerable of all the living creatures, in meeting the problems that face them during their lives. Originally made from antler and stone, blessed fetishes are objects to be venerated for their powers of hunting success, protection, healing, fertility, defending against evil, among others. Fetishes remain an important part of daily ritual life for the Zuni. For others, fetishes are a link with the earth, representing the vision of an ancient culture whose talent and craftsmanship are destined to endure.
Fetishes often have unique features carved or inlaid in, like heartlines or spiritlines, which represent the breadth path leading to the power in the fetishes’ heart. Others carry bundles on their back of stones, feathers, arrowheads, which represent offerings they carry to the gods for their owner. Blessed fetishes are never sold, but replica carvings of them are. Fetishes have significant meaning and to the Zuni, serve to help unite the past with the present. Zuni art is a material record of the past.
Duwayne Chee, Jr. is a member of the Navajo Nation and was born in Lukachukai, AZ. Growing up, he watched his dad carving and was always interested in the craft. For the past 20 years, Duwayne has been creating his own sculptures and adding unique touches such as inlay and other jewelry. His father was his biggest influence but as he grows more advanced in his techniques, he looks towards classical artists such as Michelangelo for inspiration. Duwayne says traditional Navajo songs and stories are the stories behind his carvings, and he wishes for his culture to be passed on and shared with everyone.
Duwayne Chee, Sr. is a member of the Navajo Nation and was born in Lower Greasewood Springs, AZ. He has been carving wood sculptures for more than 35 years. Duwayne was raised in a family of artists and his father and brother were his main influences. When he was younger, Duwayne would help his brother carve out his sculptures; he eventually taught himself to master body proportions and realistic body movement. Duwayne draws inspiration for his art from his Navajo culture, his surroundings, and his spiritual beliefs.
Darance is a Katsina carver from the village of Hotevilla on Third Mesa. He has been carving for more than 17 years and has developed his own carving style and technique. Darance’s tools are all hand, wood tools, and the paints are all-natural mineral pigment paints that he hand collects on Hopi. Darance says, “the katsina dolls that I carve are replicas of how I would see them in physical form when they come to visit Hopi…for me, it is something I love to do."
Eric began learning how to carve around the age of 15. He starting making flat Katsina dolls by watching and learning from his father, grandfather, brother, and cousins. As the years went by, he has improved on in skills and moved on making more elaborate Katsina dolls in the contemporary style. For his paints, he uses natural earth pigments which he collects near and far and crushes into a powder.
Coolidge Roy Jr. lives on Third Mesa in Oraibi, AZ. Coolidge has long been famous for his magnificently beautiful Eagle Dancer Kachina dolls. Coolidge's father was a carver as are his brothers and sons. Fine examples of Coolidge's work can be found in most books discussing Hopi art. Coolidge has been carving for well over 30 years and is recognized for his unique style. One of the most noticeable aspects of his carvings is the “natural” coloration that he achieves by using only very faint pigments. He likens his expertise to a professor or doctor who has spent their whole life learning their profession, and it shows in his work.
Nuvadi began carving Katsina dolls in 1995. His dolls are carved by hand from cottonwood roots and with a variety of sharp knives. He sands, texturizes, and paints the dolls. Navadi’s sons are his inspiration to further his artistic ability through the strong beliefs in his traditional culture. He has high hopes that someday they will continue to carry on the family tradition of carving Katsina dolls from the cottonwood root, as their ancestors before them.
Craig is from the village of Hotevilla, AZ, and belongs to Coyote Clan. He has been carving kachinas for more than twenty-five years. During the ceremonial seasons, he focuses on kachina carvings, bows and arrows, and rattles. His carvings are a contemporary art form. He has been influenced by other carvers in his community listening to their advice to improve his skills and then developing his own technique.
Edward is from the village of Lower Moencopi and has been carving katsina dolls for more than 30 years. His father, Glen, was his first teacher. He introduced him to the art of carving kachinas from the root of the cottonwood tree. He later attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, where he learned to carve using stone as well. Edward draws inspiration for his art from nature, his culture, and his spiritual experiences.
Curtis was born in Tuba City, AZ. He learned the art of kachina carving from his father and has been creating kachinas for more than 15 years. Before carving, Curtis attended art school and worked for the Navy. He says those years in his early life allowed him to realize he can be a voice for the Hopi people. He enjoys talking with visitors about Hopi culture and the meaning behind his carvings.
Bryston is from Zuni Pueblo and says his inspiration for his work comes from how he feels about a stone. His work is a mixture of traditional and contemporary fetishes and some people call his work sculptures, rather than fetishes.
Freddie was born and raised in the Pueblo of Zuni and is a third-generation carver from the famous Leekya Deyuse family. Freddie started carving alongside his father and has been carving for more than 20 years. Most of his fetishes are carved out from Zuni stone. Freddie's inspiration and influence comes from his father, grandfather, his culture, and his respect for wildlife.
Contact Freddie by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cameron was born at Zuni Pueblo and decided to begin carving after watching his brothers create their fetishes and helping them with the finishing touches. He says that most of the stones he uses are already close to the shape of a certain animal. This makes it easy to visualize what type of animal to carve from the raw stone. Inspiration comes from watching the actions of animals around him and trying to re-create their movement in stone.
Lynn was born into a family of carvers. Lynn and his wife Jayne started carving as a source of income and have been carving for over 30 years. Lynn began entering his carvings for judging and started receiving awards. In 2016, he received first place for a buffalo carved from leopard stone, inlaid with multicolored stones at the Santa Fe Indian Market.
Waldo's first job was as a fire fighter, but he began carving Zuni fetishes from natural stones about 6 years ago. He has a unique style that is the result of learning the art form on his own, instead of being taught.
Georgette was born and raised at Zuni Pueblo and has been creating fetish carvings for almost 40 years. She learned the basics of fetish carving from her parents and credits her entire family, most of whom are artists, with being her inspiration and motivation. Her very first carving was of a frog, her second was a turtle and her latest animal creation is the ladybug.
Claudia Peina is a Zuni fetish carver and belongs to the Parrot Clan and Child of the Sun Clan. For more than 25 years she has been a full-time carver working from her home workshop. She gained experience learning from her family members. Claudia specializes in carving and inlaying woman and bear figures. She lives at Zuni with her husband and children and works with her son to collaborate on specialty items adding silver to her work.
Marilyn is from Zuni Pueblo and has been carving fetishes for more than 30 years. She learned this craft from her husband and his family. Her inspiration for her work comes from her mind and heart and she believes it is a blessing to have her creative talent. She is happy and willing to educate the public about Zuni culture through her art.
Enrike is from Zuni, NM, and has been carving fetishes since his grandfather taught him as a child. His grandfather has been a wonderful inspiration and his greatest influence. He hopes to pass on his skills and talents to his children one day.
Reynold was born and raised at Zuni Pueblo and has been creating fetish carvings for more than 30 years. He didn’t get into making fetishes until his brother, Ronnie took up the craft in 1988. Reynold says his inspiration for his carvings comes first from the natural indentations in rock and second from designs that he sees in nature and in Zuni pottery.
Jayne Quam is a member of the Zuni Pueblo and has been carving fetishes for decades. Jayne says, “In 1980 I carved my first animal fetish and received an order for more. A few years later we began going to shows. As the years go by, we gain new experiences with different stones. Our ideas for new designs are coming to life every day.”
Jimmy a self-taught carver, was born and raised on the north side of the Zuni Reservation in New Mexico. He was previously an Emergency Medical Technician in Gallup, New Mexico, and former livestock owner and raised churro sheep. To create a fetish carving, Jimmy selects a stone by color, texture, and shape. The creation starts by holding and turning the stone within his warm hands until the animal is seen. It could become a single traditional animal or multiple animals on one stone. Jimmy says, “every stone has its own energy and that is how collectors get drawn in with the stone and the carvings.”
Contact Jimmy by calling (505) 495-1060