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Kachina Doll (Angwusnasomtaqa)

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.
CULTURE Hopi Pueblo
MEDIUM Wood, pigment, wool yarn, cotton cord, feathers
DATES late 19th century
DIMENSIONS 12 × 8 1/2 × 4 in. (30.5 × 21.6 × 10.2 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
CREDIT LINE Museum Expedition 1904, Museum Collection Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Large, barrel-shaped kachina doll of Crow Mother (Angwusnasomtaqa), who is one of the mothers of the Katsina spirits. She answers to the various calls of her children and certain ceremonial actions such as leading the performance and special initiation of children. As such she knows all the etiquette, moral ethics, and virtues thus appears always to be very stately. Wing like forms on each side of head and the dark triangular shape with bar at base symbolize facial features are characteristic. Figure is painted blue, black, and white; feet are painted red. Feather headdress is missing, surface wear.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Hopi Pueblo. Kachina Doll (Angwusnasomtaqa), late 19th century. Wood, pigment, wool yarn, cotton cord, feathers, 12 × 8 1/2 × 4 in. (30.5 × 21.6 × 10.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1904, Museum Collection Fund, 04.297.5563. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.04.297.5563_front.jpg)
IMAGE front, CUR.04.297.5563_front.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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