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.
Wood, pigment, wool yarn, cotton cord, feathers
late 19th century
Museum Expedition 1904, Museum Collection Fund
Kachina figure is probably Crow Mother-Angwusnasomtaqa and is one of the mothers of the Kachinas. 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 missing, surface wear.
This item is not on view
Hopi Pueblo. Kachina Doll (Angwusnasomtaqa), late 19th century. Wood, pigment, wool yarn, cotton cord, feathers, 11 13/16 in. (30 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Museum Expedition 1904, Museum Collection Fund, 04.297.5563. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.04.297.5563_front.jpg)
. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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What do we know about the symbolism of the shapes on these kachinas--specifically the downward triangle?
The triangle with the bar symbolizes the figure's facial features, and the two black triangular pieces on the sides are wings.
Kachina Dolls are very powerful symbolic figures, and they convey multiple ideas and conceptions of the world. I'm sure that Pueblo people have many different ways of interpreting their message both in the abstract and more concrete sense.