TITLE: Hopi Koyemsi Katsina
GENERAL REGION: North American
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUBREGION: New Mexico
DESCRIPTION: Koyemsi (Mudhead) Katsina Mask
CEREMONY: Katsina Dance
AGE: mid-twentieth century
MAIN MATERIAL: linen
OTHER MATERIALS: cloth wadding; string; clay
The katsina (sometimes written kachina) dance is a ceremony sacred to the Pueblo peoples of the North American southwest. The katsina dancer, in donning the uniform and mask, represents a divine spirit and connects the power of that spirit to his people. Katsina dances are used on many occasions, including adult initiation, grain planting and harvest, and changes of seasons.
Both the Hopi and Zuñi nations use the koyemsi katsina. Koyemsi translates roughly to “mudhead.” The character has slightly different meanings to different nations. To the Hopi, the koyemsi represents the first being to emerge onto the earth from a sipapu, which is why he is covered in mud. Unlike other katsinas, he does not exactly represent a god. The koyemsi appears in most dances and plays the important social role of clowning. The koyemsi may drum, dance, play games with the audience, or award prizes for the races and guessing games they organize.