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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Weaving circles of life

    On the surface, they’re just baskets. Take a second look, and the hand-woven works of art become insightful symbols of an ancient culture full of mystique.

    The Arizona State Museum is hosting the Opening Celebrations for a new exhibit, “”Circles of life: Katsina Imagery in Hopi Basketry.””

    A Hopi katsina, or kachina, is a deified spirit of the Pueblo people, which includes the Hopis.

    The exhibit features a wide range of Hopi culture.

    “”We have about 100 examples of Hopi Indian basketry, mostly wicker basketry but some other examples of coiled basketry,”” said Diane Dittemore, an ethnological collections curator at the Arizona State Museum. “”It’s a travelling exhibit so these pieces are here from Ukiah, California, where a museum had developed this exhibit.””

    She added that the exhibit would be complemented with pottery and Hopi katsina dolls from the Arizona State Museum’s collection.

    The exhibit gives the baskets a new spin by accompanying it with a wealth of knowledge.

    “”There’s a lot of info about them, and they have information that helps people to be able to look at and identify what kachina is being depicted on the basket,”” Dittemore said. “”The context that tells about the history, about the development of design on baskets and how people can learn to distinguish different kachinas on Hopi baskets.””

    Dittemore’s favorite piece is a cradle board, made of basketry, containing a katsina doll.

    “”It demonstrates the importance of basketry in Hopi culture and how the tradition is passed along,”” she said, “”but also the importance of kachinas in Hopi religion and how young people, Hopi people learn about the kachinas, these deities, through the gift of kachina dolls. It sort of prepares them for their life as a Hopi person.””

    The exhibit also communicates the Hopi version of a universal concept: tradition.

    “”Any young person can understand the importance of a family or cultural tradition, whether it’s knitting, or quilting or whatever,”” she said. “”These baskets represent a long tradition among the Hopis, and allow college students to connect with other young people’s lives in terms of what they might have handed down in their families.””

    Circles of Life Katsina Imagery in Hopi Basketry

    Opening celebration
    Feb. 7, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

    Arizona State Museum

    Including demonstrations by basket weavers and a katsina carver, presentations by curators and collectors and hands-on activities.

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