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 Museum Explorer

Gods and spirits in
the Americas

Lightning doll

Height: 28.500 cm

AOA 1891.6-12.24

Lightning doll

From: New Mexico, North America (Hopi)
Date: 19th century

Hopi people have hundreds of gods called Katsinam who live among humans but cannot be seen. People pray to the Katsinam to bring rain. Arizona, where the Hopi live, is very dry, and their farms of maize and beans need plenty of water.

This is a Lightning Katsina doll; you can see the lightning zigzagging from its head. After a ceremony to pray for rain, it would have been given to a girl. The doll would have reminded her of the importance of Katsinam and that if she was not well behaved, it would not rain.