California Travel Tips

Los Angeles Autry Exhibit Features Hopi Katsina Dolls, Spiritual Messengers

Published on: June 28, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — At the Autry there’s always something to see. This weekend June 30, 2012 is the free to see annual Navajo Rug Sale and Auction. Most won’t be able to make it to the exciting event where every rug is hand-made and filled with meaning.

If you’re looking for spiritual journeys, a new exhibit  (June 29, 2012 to June 23, 2013) is on display at The Autry, located across from the Los Angeles Zoo at Griffith Park.  The finest collection of Hopi katsina dolls on Earth has been amassed for the public to view, drawing from over 700 rare, hand carved dolls of the Southwest. The exhibition offers  unique and fascinating glimpses into one native culture’s interpretation of spiritual messengers.

To some the dolls may seem scary but to Hopi children the wooden dolls are looked upon as gifts. Katsinam (pl.) are a component of an elaborate ceremonial system within the Hopi culture. As spiritual beings who represent all aspects of life, they are as diverse as life itself. They represent animals, insects, food, and the elements, each having his/her own name, function, purpose, and dress. With the intent of bringing moisture to aid crops, blessings for a better life, medicine, gifts of food and produce, and sometimes disciplinary actions, they visit the Hopi people during six months of the year.  The Hopi people in turn make prayer requests to them for an abundant harvest, increased rain or snow, or even personal wishes for pregnancy, marriage, or a successful hunt. At certain times of the year, Katsina spirits make and give Hopi girls likenesses of themselves (a Katsina doll is called a tihu). These dolls serve to help the children gain knowledge of the Katsinam’s diversity, names, and functions. It’s a doll collection like no other, and part of the learning experience you can acquire at one of the nation’s finest museums specifically focused on our region–the Southwest!


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