Henry Shelton—Hopi kachina doll carver<br>

Next he stressed kachinas’ significance.

“Kachina dolls represent supernatural beings who will bring whatever you ask for, give you a good life, good spirit, bring you gifts and also, when you plant, give you good harvest,” Shelton said. “Kachinas are the people who bring rain for the crops, because on the reservation, we don’t irrigate. We depend on the rain for moisture.”

Three kachina dolls, delicately packed in a large cardboard box, await transport to the Museum of Northern Arizona’s renowned annual Hopi show over the Fourth of July weekend.

Shelton is the recipient of many awards at Native American art and craft shows and his dolls are displayed in many national and international museums, including the Smithsonian and the Heard. And his carvings are a part of many private collections in France, Spain, Japan and Australia.

The forms of each of the dolls is dramatically different from the other, yet each one reflects Henry’s unique and signature carving style, which capture the movements of the kachinas dancing and in motion. He describes each of these delicately carved creations.

“According to Hopi legend, the Mastop or Death Fly kachina, is identifiable by a hand print painted on his chest and back,” Shelton said. “He is the one, that if a woman wants to get pregnant, he comes over and touches her on both sides of her shoulders and, supposedly, she gets pregnant.”

Mastop comes during the Bean Dance ceremony that takes place usually around February, in the early part of the year when it is still winter.


Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comment submissions may not exceed a 200 word limit, and in order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.