by Rose Houk
From winter solstice until mid-summer each year, the benevolent spirits called katsinam live among the Hopi on their three mesas in Northern Arizona. The katsinam, central to Hopi religion, are given form as wooden carvings popularly known as “kachina dolls.” The Hopi believe that the carvings, tithu, are made by the katsinam themselves in their own likeness. The figures were, and still are, given to the Hopi females of all ages and to infant boys.
The earliest Anglo collectors of the carvings were U.S. Army surgeons who came to the Hopi in the 1850’s. Though some Hopi resisted selling what are essentially religious objects, by the early twentieth century katsina carvings were being made and sold more widely. Today, many Hopi make a good living selling their carvings. (Other Pueblo people, notably the Zuni, also produced katsina figures.)
Western National Parks Association