Kachina doll, Butterfly Maiden (PALHIK MANA)
American Southwest, Arizona, Hopi
Collected by Phoebe A. Hearst, acc. 1913.
For the Hopi, kachinas exist in three forms: spirits, masked dancers, and dolls. The spirits act as intermediaries between the supernatural and mortal worlds, fostering fertility, growth, and well-being. For six months of the year, when they reside in the Hopi villages, kachinas are represented by masked dancers. Doll versions, carved from cottonwood root, are given to women and especially girls as a blessing. They have no bases, but are meant to be hung on home walls, where girls can learn to differentiate the many kachinas. By the late 19th century, so many dolls were being collected by anthropologists and traders that the Hopi began making them specifically for sale. This figure represents a female dancer wearing a tableta or headdress, not an actual kachina spirit.