When Hopi dancers accept put on the masks and apparel of their katsinas, a ritual that dates to time immemorial, they are putting on far more: their identity.
"The Hopi Indians represent their gods in several ways," wrote anthropologist Jesse Walter Fewkes in 1899, "one of which is by personation--by cutting masks or apparel address symbols that are admired as appropriate of those beings. The symbols depicted on these masks and apparel alter considerably, but are readily accustomed and articular by the Indians."
Another way of apery the gods is through the katsina "dolls," which today are advised a top art anatomy as able-bodied as religious symbols. And while a lot of of the ceremonies are off banned to outsiders today, abounding katsinas (also spelled kachinas) accept been aggregate at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, basic conceivably the a lot of accepted amount of an all-encompassing accumulating of masterpieces created by the built-in peoples of the Southwest.
"At anniversary anniversary in which these abnormal beings are personated," Fewkes wrote, "the symbols are repainted, and connected convenance has led to a top development of this affectionate of aesthetic work, abounding of the Indians accepting become able in painting the symbols appropriate of the gods."
The advent, several decades later, of a tourism industry that craved the katsinas led to a agnate advance in aesthetic skills. The accumulating at the Heard, calculation added than 500, includes abounding of the beforehand carvings, calm by the Harvey Company, and after images aggregate by the backward Sen. Barry Goldwater.
Arizona's Hopis, like adjoining New Mexico's Zunis, accept acclaimed their adoration with katsina ceremonies back continued afore the Europeans knew of the Americas. Yet they abide to add new associates to the katsina pantheon as they apprentice added about their universe. Some of the activities alien by added tribes and by the birth of the Europeans accept even appear to be represented.
One of the best means to apprentice about the katsinas is by experiencing the Heard Museum's all-encompassing collection, which is allotment of a all-inclusive display alleged "Native People in the Southwest," which will abide indefinitely at the Phoenix location, 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.
It appearance about 2,000 treasures, the Heard says, including jewelry, cultural items, pottery, baskets, textiles, beadwork and more. And it's not just the little stuff. There's a full-sized Navajo hogan, Hopi pikiroom, Yaqui ramada and Pueblo oven. For added information, appointment the Heard website.