Collectors' Common Questions

Is it "katsina" or "kachina"?
The word "kachina" is not a word in the Hopi Language, but many Hopis will still it to refer to a kachina doll. The Hopi word "Katsina" is a spirit being. "Tihu" is a Hopi word that can mean a child or katsina doll (kachina doll). The plural of tihu is "tithu". Kachina doll, Katsina doll, Katsin'tihu (Katsin'tithu for plural), or Tihu (tithu) work well.
What is the correct Hopi name for a katsina (doll)?
 The Hopi name for a katsina can vary from mesa to mesa. Also, two people from the same village might disagree on a name. The names and meanings of katsinam have been passed down verbally to each new generation in stories and legends. The Hopi names can and will vary.
What is the correct spelling of a Hopi name for a katsina (doll)?
Until “Hopi Dictionary/Hopiikwa Lavaytutuveni: A Hopi-English Dictionary of the Third Mesa Dialect” was published in 1998, there was no "official" publishing for the Hopi language. This dictionary only covers the Third Mesa Dialect. Many katsina doll books were published before this dictionary. Each author had a different phonetic system. This still causes confusion for collectors about what spelling is right. The most popular book that artists use (refer to) is “Kachinas: A Hopi Artist’s Documentary” by Barton Wright and Cliff Bahnimptewa. Artists may use that Hopi spelling because of the book's popularity. Other artists will write their own phonetics when writing a name on the doll. Some artists will simply use the English translation.

For available katsina dolls:


For dolls that were previously available: