Zuni Snake Dancer Kachina

Rose Yazzie
Item number: PYH 5666

A superb, elaborately hand painted cottonwood root carving, this dramatic effigy was created by Rose Yazzie, a member of the Navajo/Dineh Nation. It's representation of a Zuni* Snake Dancer, a participant in a clan dance where live rattlesnakes and/or bull snakes are handled. While we have labeled this a "kachina," it actually is not. A kachina/katsina embodies one of the spirit pantheon of the tribe, while the Snake Dancer is an earthly personage who prays to the spirits for rain through his dancing. While the Hopi are most famous for their Snake Dance, other Native American people, like the Zuni, also perform it.

The carving is signed on the bottom "Zuni snake dancer Rose Yazzie husband." We are assuming that Rose Yazzie's husband was one of the Zuni snake dancers and that, despite tradition, Rose went to live with the Zuni tribe after her marriage. In addition, there are numbers written on the bottom: either 10190 (perhaps an Indian census roll number) or the date 10/90.

There are so many details on this doll that we will mention just a few. The masked face is also decorated with paint and topped with fur "hair." He is holding one end of a long snake in each hand and there is another around his neck. His kilt is painted with a snake and is accessorized with a red sash painted with geometric symbols. He wears fringed boot moccasins and has yucca strips hanging from his arms.

This carving stands 14 inches tall on a round base 4 1/2 inches in diameter, measures 7 inches across from elbow to elbow and weighs 8 ounces. It is in excellent condition, the yucca strips being a bit frayed but with no missing pieces or other damage, a true work of art by a talented Native American carver.

*Members of the Zuni tribe call themselves A:shiwi which means "The Flesh."

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PYH 5666