Hopi Katcina Songs and six other songs by Hopi Chanters

Ethnic Folkways Library FE 4394

Edited and with notes by Charles Hofmann
The singers:
Honyi, head of the Antelope Priesthood, Walpi Pueblo
Kutka, chief of the Walpi tribe of Hopi
Honauuh, head priest of the snake ceremony, Walpi Pueblo
Kakapti, Hopi priest
Historical documentary collection recorded under the supervision of Dr. Jesse Walter Fewkes, formerly chief, Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Eleven songs by four singers recorded in Arizona in 1924.
The Hopi Indians represent their gods in several ways one of which is by personification - by wearing masks or garments bearing symbols that are regarded as being characteristic of those beings. The symbols depicted on these masks and garments vary considerably, but are readily recognized and identified by the Indians. At each festival in which these supernatural beings are personated the symbols are repainted and continued practice has led to a high development of this kind of artistic work, many of the Indians having become expert in painting the symbols characteristic of the gods. Dr. Fewkes found several Hopi men competent to paint a collection of pictures of the kind desired and finally chose for that work Kutcakonauu (White Bear), age 30. These representations are used to illustrate an article by Dr. Fewkes devoted to Hopi Katcinas published in 1903.
When a Hopi draws a picture or cuts an image or a god, either a doll or an idol, he gives the greatest care to the representation of the head. The symbols on the head are characteristic and its size is generally out of proportion to the rest of the body. When these same gods are personated by men the symbols are ordinarily painted on masks or helmets. Some of White Bear's representations are shown here which serve in part to illustrate the songs.
The Katcinas are the divinized ancestors of the Hopi clans impersonated by masked dancers and are supposed to come to the pueblo in February each year, under the leadership of the Sun. They are expected to remain in the neighborhood of the pueblos after having a dance, to perform other functions during the summer months and to depart in July - that is, go home to the underworld where they ordinarily reside. It is supposed that during the summer they are in the fields where by magic they aid the growth of the corn and facilitate the harvest.
As the Hopi are agriculturalists and need the supernatural power to aid them in the production of their food, they believe that the Katcinas by their songs and prayers aid them. Each Katcina group has a song characteristic of it for that purpose.
The following songs illustrate the general character of the kind of songs which are characteristic of different Kitcinas. As the great necessity of the Hopi ceremonial is aid in the production of the rain to water the arid farms, the Katcinas are called Rain Gods and their songs the Rain and Growth songs. Although certian songs characterize the Katcinas, the paraphernalia they wear is approximately the same. All Katcina performers are masked men and the priests deliver to them the prayers of the people. The Katcinas sing these prayers in the progress of the dance.

Play song


Performed by


Native Words



Bean Harvest (Powamu Katcina) In this dance the leader of the Katcina or Sun, distributes sprouting beans as a symbol that their crops will be propitious. This takes place in February when the Katcinas arrive. Hopi
Buffalo Dance (Mucaiasti Katcina) A clan ceremony and song of the Buffalo people, in which appears a man impersonating a buffalo, and a woman impersonating a buffalo maid. The latter wears on her back the symbol of the Sun and the former carries in his hand a zigzag stick representing lightning. As he dances around the plaza he strikes the earth with this stick symbolizing the fertilizing of the earth in order that it may bring forth abundant buffalo. This is an incorporated song and ceremony from the people who were buffalo hunters and does not belong to the archaic ritual of the Hopi. Hopi
Beard Dance (Anga Katcina) Anga means "long beard" and this is a rain song. Hopi
Mud-head Or Clown (Tacheuktu Katcina) Hopi
Mud-head Or Clown (Tuwina'ay) A very old priesthood which has become attached to the Katcinas. These songs are to amuse the people during the sacred dance. Hopi
Rain Dance (Soyohim Katcina) In this arid country the great and unceasing prayer is for rain to water the crops. The Soyohim Katcina includes all the different varieties of Katcinas - the Sun, the Rain Cloud, the Owl, the Apache, the Navaho, the Shaliko, etc. This is a rain dance, each dancer being dressed in the characteristic apparel and masks of the different Katcinas. Hopi
Rabbit Hunt (Makwatu) This spirited song is sung in the annual rabbit hunts which are commual in their nature. The hunters, using boomerangs, form a circle enclosing a large tract of country, driving the rabbits from this area to the center. Hopi
Duck (Pawik Katcina) The participants in the Duck Katcina wear masks representing the head of a duck and the characteristic paraphernalia of the Katcina. The Pawik Katcina is particularly popular because the duck frequents the water and by synthetic magic is supposed to be very efficacious in bringing the much
desired rain.
Rain Song (Malo Katcina) This type of song is intended to bring the much needed rain for the fields and the example is from a dance said to be derived from the Zuni. Hopi
Rain Song (Tacab Katcina) Introduced from the Tacab (Navaho) and is a dance and song for rain. Hopi
Rain Song (Humis Katcina) Introduced from the Pueblo of Jemez (Humis) this is another dance and song for rain. Hopi
Mud Head Katcina Song Sung by Porter Timeche and Hopi group accompanied by drum, gourd rattles and bells. Original recordings on Gennett discs 1306-1307.

Clowns appear in many of the Hopi dances and Mud Head Katcinas are a good example. Full of fun-making and mischief, their bodies are daubed with clay and their heads are hidden in knobby sacks, also clay-daubed - thus "Mudheads." In this song the appeal is again for rain.
Butterfly Dance Song This is one of the most colorful of the Hopi dances and was originally seen in the plaza every three years during the month of August. Bounteous crops and rainfall is the petition of this song. Two lines of young men and women dancers participate, approaching and retreating in a shuffling trot to the accompaniment of drum and rattles. A symbolic cloud design is shown on the elaborate headdresses of the girls. Hopi
Hoop Dance Song Performances of this dance require a great deal of skill and dexterity. Hoops are passed over the body of the dancer beginning with the stepping into the circle of wood and working the hoop up toward the head. There are many movements to pass the hoop around the body. The song is sometimes sung to encourage the dancer or to compliment him when he shows dexterity and skill in manipulating the hoops. Hopi
Buffalo Dance Song This animal, revered by all Indian peoples as a source of power as well as a source of food, is symbolized in the Buffalo Dances of the southwest
Pueblo peoples. Words sometimes mention cloud (the source of rain) and green corn (the result of rain) since the buffalo is used as a source of power in obtaining this sustenance. Indians chanters with drum. Recorded by R. W. Billingsley in Arizona and released in 1929 as Victor record 20043. Two often heard and popular Southwest Indian ceremonials, not connected with the Katcina. The participants do not use masks but other
elaborate paraphernalia and costumes.
Eagle Dance Two young men stand side by side, and as the eagle rides the air, so do these two dancers rise and fall on their toes. Around and around they circle, swooping with inconceivable grace. With arms extended, like the wings of the great bird, the dancers move their painted, yellow bodies from side to side as they crouch and swoop and imitate the eagle's sweeping gestures with their wing-like arms. The Hopi believe the eagle is always strong and therefore can "cure anything." This dance, imitating the bird with its power, is part of a healing ceremony which is supposed to cure any disease. Since the eagle is considered as connecting link between earth and heaven, it is believed to have great power and its plumes are the prayer bearers.
The dance itself may be held at any time, preceded by a four-day fast during which the sick are treated before an altar in the ceremonial chamber. Later the dance is held for all to see and the two men are selected who have unusual skill and can send medicine prayers heavenward on the plumes of the mighty eagle as me old men chant and drum.
The eagle rises,
The wings swoop upward.
High toward the sky
The great bird moves.
His plumes are filled with prayers.
Earth and heaven are one.
The eagle rises!
Snake Dance The Snake Ceremony of the Hopi is probably one of the most ancient dances still in existence today. It is the direct worship of the Hopi clan ancestor, which is the snake. The ceremonial is given during the summer by two fraternities of priests, the Antelope Men and the Snake Order, and its purpose is to insure early Fall rains in this semi -desert country. The members collect living snakes and dance with them and this is witnessed in the Plaza before the people on the ninth day of the ceremony. After the dance the snakes are released to the four directions of the earth and delivered to certain shrines, where they are supposed to carry their message to the underworld. Meanwhile, since the Snake Ceremony always brings rain, the spectators have seen heavy black clouds gathering over the distant hills. And with the rain comes the hope and assurance of confidence that all hearts are clean and pure and that the unseen ones were well pleased with the ceremonial and the work of the people of the Snake and the Antelope. Behold!
The Men of the Antelope.
The Men of the Snake.
The unseen ones have heard our prayers.
Black clouds gather over distant hills.
The Men of the Antelope.
The Men of the Snake.