The Origins of the Katsinam

Sa'lakwmana, Gift of Mary T. Hemenway, PM 45-25-10/28831

The katsina religion probably dates from the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, when people from the Four Corners region of the Colorado Plateau moved into the upper Colorado Valley and formed large aggregate settlements with the indigenous Mogollon or western Pueblo people.

From its inception, the katsina religion helped create cultural equilibrium and cooperative behavior as immigrant and resident populations adapted to each other.

Excavation of large ancestral Hopi Pueblos in the Little Colorado River valley indicate that the religion had a major influence on Pueblo culture after A.D.1300. Katsinam appear on pottery by 1325 on the Mogollon Rim and before 1350 along the upper and middle Little Colorado River. On the Hopi Mesas, katsinam motifs postdate 1350 on ceramics and possibly on rock art. Katsinam appear on rock art as the Rio Grande style in the Rio Grande Valley, Zuni, and middle Colorado River areas by 1350. By 1500, the religion was present in all western Pueblos of Hopi, Zuni, and probably Acoma, and in the eastern Pueblos south and east of Santa Fe. It also might have been present in the Tewa villages.

The representations of masked beings that are the easiest to identify as katsinam come from murals in kivas which may date as early as 1350 at Hopi and Homol'ovi. Details of the paintings on Awatovi murals, an ancestral Hopi site, show costumed and masked figures as separated elements or interacting in scenes. Ritual drama and symbolic elements in the murals are recognizable and still used today among Pueblo people.

These objects were included in the exhibition, but are not on-line:

1. Bowls, Polacca Polychrome, Style C, A.D. 1860-1890

2. Modeled Sa´lakwmana Pitchers, Polacca Polychrome, Style C, A.D. 1860-1890
See the Sa´lakwmana kastinam.

3. Jars, Polacca Polychrome, Style C, A.D

4. Tiles, Polacca Polychrome, Style D, A.D. 1890-1900