Kachinas Archives

Kachina Doll

Arizona, USA

Wupa-ala Katsina
Kachina doll with the long horn

Carved wood (cottonwood), natural pigments and horsehair
Circa 1930
Height: 9 ¾ in. (25 cm)

Price: sold

America - Southwest
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Kachina dolls (or katsinam) represent spirits or gods from the pantheon of the Pueblo peoples in the American Southwest. Given to children, kachina dolls constituted a pedagogical tool allowing them to familiarize themselves with the spiritual world and perpetuating knowledge of the founding myths on which their society was based.

It is exceedingly rare to find carved depictions of this kachina figure called Wupa-ala. It is distinguished by its asymmetrical ears. One of them is pointed, recalling the shape of a horn, hence the name of this spirit, “the long-horned katsina”. Wupa-ala kachina dancers seldom appeared, and usually only during Mixed Dances on the First Mesa, which explains the rarity of its representations.
In terms of iconography, the cross shape at the center of the mask is reminiscent of that of the Terrific Power kachina (Chowilawu Katsina) which plays a purifying role in the village. Wupa-ala is also commonly mistaken for the Zuni Rain Priest. It is the rarity of his appearances (and therefore of his carved representations) that explain the difficulty of his identification.