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Kachina Doll (Helele)

Arts of the Americas

In the southwestern United States, a supernatural being that represents a life-force or embodies a natural phenomenon such as the sun, the moon, a plant, or an animal is called a koko by the Zuni and a katsina (commonly anglicized as “kachina”) by the Hopi. Such beings have the power to control rainfall, crop growth, and fertility; to cure and protect; and to act as messengers between the gods and human beings. Carved kachina figures, also known as kachina dolls, are representations of these spirits and can have a sacred or an educational purpose. During some ceremonies, the carvings are given to community members to reward virtuous behavior, recognize a recent marriage, or teach children about religion. In the 1800s, a lively market for the carvings developed among non-Native collectors and tourists, giving rise to the elaborate art form that flourishes today.
MEDIUM Wood, pigment, hair, fur, feathers, cotton cloth, hide, plant fiber, silk ribbon
DATES late 19th century
DIMENSIONS 17 5/16 x 6 7/8 in. (44 x 17.5 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 03.325.4652
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1903, Museum Collection Fund
RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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CAPTION She-we-na (Zuni Pueblo). Kachina Doll (Helele), late 19th century. Wood, pigment, hair, fur, feathers, cotton cloth, hide, plant fiber, silk ribbon, 17 5/16 x 6 7/8 in. (44 x 17.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1903, Museum Collection Fund, 03.325.4652. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 03.325.4652_acetate_bw.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 03.325.4652_acetate_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION This kachina has a textile snake wrapped around his neck and holds a wand in his proper right hand. His headress has two "ears" with sun forms painted on them. He wears the traditional dance skirt.
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