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The kachina who is known to carry a stuffed or real snake around his neck during the Hilili dances is the Hilili Kohanna kachina. It is possible that this doll is a variation of this kachina because of the stuffed snake and the wildcat dots on his arms that may reflect the wildcat skin worn by this kachina. Alternatively it might not really be a kachina dancer but a representation of a snake dancer, one who dances with live rattlesnakes of bull snakes. This dance is still done at Hopi although it is now closed to the public due to audiences that were too rowdy.The previous name of kachina is by Culin and is not correct. This kachina doll is wearing a cotton kilt with a painted snake design. A stuffed fabric image of a snake hangs from the kachina's protruding mouth. This doll is holding a bow in proper left hand and a spade shaped fan in the proper right. There are leather boots with turned back cuffs on his feet. His chest is painted with squiggly, vertical stripes. His arms, legs and face are dotted. His goggle eyes are painted textiles fastened to the mask. The arms are held on with nails. He wears a feather headdress and has long, unruly hair.

Credit Line

Museum Expedition 1903, Museum Collection Fund


This kachina has characteristics of two different spirits. Hilili Kachina is known to carry a real or stuffed snake around his neck during the Hilili dances that are performed with Mudhead Kachinas (clowns who misbehave and entertain the crowd) during early February planting ceremonies. Alternatively, this kachina may represent a Snake Dancer, a man who dances with live rattlesnakes or bull snakes in a clan dance representing the clan’s ancestor. This important ceremony ensures water for crops and is still performed today, although the ceremonies are closed to the public to keep rowdy visitors from upsetting the snakes.

Esta kachina tiene las características de dos espíritus diferentes. Kachina Hilili se conoce por llevar una serpiente real o rellena alrededor de su cuello durante las danzas Hilili que se realizan con Kachinas Cabezas de Barro (payasos que hacen travesuras y entretienen a la multitud). Alternativamente, esta kachina puede representar a un Bailarín Serpiente, un hombre que danza con serpientes cascabel o serpientes toro vivas en una danza del clan, representando al ancestro de dicho clan. Esta importante ceremonia asegura agua para las cosechas y es celebrada hasta hoy, aunque las ceremonias están cerradas al público para que los visitantes ruidosos no perturben a las serpientes.

Item History

  • Made between 1868 and 1899

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