Large Patung Katsina – Squash Kachina doll
Carved wood (cottonwood) and pigments
Height: 17 ¼ in. (44 cm)
Ex collection John C. Hill, USA
Plants are of great importance to the Hopi, because of their dependence upon them for food. As such, many kachinas in the Hopi pantheon refer to plants. Corn is the most important source of food, and as such, the most prevalent type of kachinas. Other plants and flowers are also depicted as Kachina spirits, such as the squash kachina presented here known in Hopi language as Patung.
Patung Katsina, or Squash Kachina, is a chief kachina of wuya for the Pumpkin Clan. There are relatively few members of this clan left, and consequently their stories are not very well known. Although the Squash Kachina's function as a wuya are unknown, he does appear as a runner on First Mesa.
Kachina dolls as a source of inspiration for Western artists
The squash Kachina inspired many artists of the 20th century, notably Marc Chagall. For Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird, in 1945 at the New York City Ballet, Marc Chagall designed more than eighty costumes (made under the direction of his daughter Ida). Many of these costumes were directly inspired by those of Kachina dancers. Chagall’s drawings of his “Green Monster with black stripes” taking exactly after the features of a Patung kachina.