News-Antique.com - Aug 26,2008 - Aug. 27, 2008 -- The kiva has been at the heart of Hopi tradition for more than 1,000 years. Like churches, the round ceremonial chambers are holy sites.
The Hopis believe life began in the kivas. The first humans, they say, left their dark home in the earthís interior and climbed upward toward the light and the present world through a hole in the floor of the kiva. They also believe they will return to the underworld when they die.
The kachinas were the spiritual beings who taught the Hopis how to live on earth after their emergence. The kachina dolls are religious icons. They represent the spirit essence of everything in the real world. Theyíre like statues of saints.
In Hopi, the word Kachina (Katsina or Qatsina) means "life bringer". Among the Pueblos Indian tribes like the Zuni and Hopi, the kachina, or rain deity, is a supernatural being responsible for the tribeís very survival.
Without its help, the rivers wonít flow and the crops donít grow.
Kachina dolls are carved from cottonwood root and painted to represent figures from Hopi mythology. Genuine kachina dolls are made by only a small number of Hopi carvers who have dedicated their lives to the art--it takes years of practice and religious study to master.
Itís an ancient tradition. As far back as the 1500s, the Spanish wrote about seeing bizarre images of the devil, most likely kachina dolls, hanging in pueblo homes.
Itís impossible to have a complete collection of all the kachinas made because the art form is continually changing. The carvers who make them also do so out of their own perception of what the kachina looks like.
On June 9, Bonhams & Butterfields featured a selection of kachina dolls in its Native American and Pre-Columbian Art auction.
A Hopi figure depicting a young woman in traditional attire; attached tags read ďHopi Doll, Tom Pavatea; 12 ĺ inches high sold for $12,000.
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