Kachina: Snake Dancer
The Snake Dancer Katsinam (Chusona) is a rarely carved Kachina figure, and in some communities it is not considered a Kachina at all, but a person in society. His ceremony is considered to be one of the most sacred among the Hopi. When a snake is found, the Snake Dancer captures the snake and dances with it, usually putting it in his mouth.
The snake image is painted or woven into the skirt of the dancer, and the face is painted with the black smut from cheeks to forehead, with a black wig covered with feathers or branches. The dancer often has a fox pelt hanging from the back of his belt.
The ceremonies are not usually open to the public; instead they are closed private affairs, keeping sacred many of the specific intentions. When the dance is completed, the Chusona returns the snake to its home territory and sends a message back with the snake to Mother Earth. The Snake Dancer requests that Mother Earth grant the wishes of the tribe, which usually ask for good health, seasonal rain and a bountiful harvest.
After the ceremony, the Dancer remains solemn for a period of days while requesting that Mother Earth grant the wishes of the People.
The Snake Dance has always been an intense fascination for non-Hopi people, and consequentially, effigies of the Dancer have been carved and painted for many years.