Detail View: The AMICA Library: Kachina (Tihu)

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Old cottonwood root kachina painted with natural ochres; poster paint on tableta; white face mask, elaborate openwork tableta in stepped cloud form; painted red/brown, yellow, green cloud motifs; each section of tableta separately carved tied together grass fibers in pierced holes; white face, red circle eyes, red inverted U-shape mouth with black outline; radiating lines of yellow, red divided by black from mouth to chin; tubular body, narrowing at neck, no arms; black and white design of eagle feathers represented beneath full-length brown wedding robe; black, red, white bands borders of robe; short, white legs with white boots (male green moccasins); hard, tableta disproportionately large for body, typical of old kachinas.
Creator Nationality: 
Native American
Creator Name-CRT: 
Hopi, Arizona
Kachina (Tihu)
Full view
Creation Date: 
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Classification Term: 
Classification Term: 
(none assigned)
Creation Place: 
Arizona, United States
Height: 11 1/2"; width: 9 1/2"; depth: 2 1/2"
AMICA Contributor: 
Brooklyn Children's Museum
Owner Location: 
Brooklyn, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Gift of Dr. Herbert S. Zim, 1979
This fine old kachina doll represents Salako Mana, the Hopi Maiden, the female counterpart of Salako (male). She has the same characteristics except she wears white boots instead of green moccasins. The elaborate tableta has cloud symbols; the white robe represents a wedding robe and the inner skirt design represents eagle feathers. The Salako ceremony is rarely performed; for example, it was danced in 1936, 1952, and 1957. The male and female (both danced by men) take part. Marionettes representing the kachina are used in the Doll Dance.

Kachinas are the spirits who led the first humans to the earth. The spirits live six months on the peaks of the San Francisco Mountains (mid-July through December) and six months (January through mid-July) in Hopi villages (pueblos). There are three forms of kachina: 1) the supernatural being; 2) the masked dancer of Hopi, who becomes a spirit; and 3) dolls ("tihu" in Hopi) with characteristics of the kachinas that they represent. The dolls are given to children and women by the kachinas during ceremonies. They are not toys but are meant to be treasured. They are hung on rafters in the home, where they can be seen every day.

There are over 250 Hopi kachinas, who appear at five major ceremonies. Some are ogres, some chiefs; some are friendly or even funny. Ceremonies propitiate the spirits and enable the Hopi to acquire their good will and assistance for the fertility of crops. Boys and girls are initiated into the kachina cult at 6-10 years old. However, only men dance the kachinas.

Kachina dolls are carved by men for the women and children in their family, from dried cottonwood roots covered with kaolin (a type of clay), and painted. When they are given to women, they represent a prayer for fertility, as women have less contact with spirits than men.
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