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Kachina: Hemis

The Hemis Kachina is probably the best known and most beautiful of all Hopi Katsinas. In many collections the Hemis is also the tallest and the most colorful of the Kachinas. His elaborate headdress, called a tableta, is partly responsible for his height and beauty. His body is painted with black corn smut with light colored half moons on the chest. He wears a kilt, which has been elaborately embroidered. The tableta, which can be half the size of the body, is painted with phallic and cloud symbols and capped with feathers. Evergreen sprigs appear above the neckline of the dancer. He appears in the Home Dance or Niman Ceremony. No other kachinas, neither clowns nor side dancers, appear with the line of the Hemis Kachinas, except the Hemis Manas. The Manas create the beat of the dance with rasping sticks, drums, and gourds. They make frog-like sounds that are intended to resemble thunder.

The Hopi refer to the Hemis Kachina and dance as having come from the Jemez Pueblo along the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. The residents of the Jemez Pueblo refer to a similar dance as having Hopi origins.

The dancing Kachina has rattles, shells, bells, and/or jewelry in his hands and on his legs. Some versions of the Hemis Kachina are topped with wood carved feathers, while others have real eagle and owl down feathers on the tableta. There are some Federal Regulations around the selling of these Hemis Kachinas, and in those instances the back and top of the mask are removed before they are sold.




Hopi Katsina #9207