The Zuni are a Native American Pueblos people who have lived in the American Southwest on the Zuni River (a tributary of the Colorado River) for thousands of years. The Zuni are the nextdoor neighbors of the Hopi and have many similar kachina in terms of style and representation.
This ancient culture follows a matrilineal clan system and uses art to tell stories and express their intricate and varied cultural systems. One of their oldest stories is the one of the Zuni overtaking their enemy, the Kianakwe. The Kianakwe (also, "Kyanakwe") were a group of hunters and farmers who lived South of the Zuni. The gods demanded a war and the Zuni fought the Kyanakwe for four days before victory.
Today, in commemoration, the ceremony is danced once every four years and when led by the chief (Kiamosona) brings abundant food, typically corn.
Artist Tiffany Tsabetsaye is a gifted carver and painter known for his stark use of traditional Pueblean colors- turquoise, red, ocre, and in the case of jewelry, silver. The depiction of the ceremony here is one of a Zuni warrior ascending from his kiva. The warrior's colorful checkered armor is flashy showing off the warrior's victory. Many Zuni choose to dress their kachina doll but Tsabetsaye's style combines paint and intricate carvings with particular attention to the headdress and mask. His mouth is in the blossom-pose, a traditional pose that can be seen in other renditions of the story. The kiva served a wide variety of purposes- as a domicile and as a sacred space to practice ceremonies. This Zuni warrior is a dramatic addition to any kachina doll collection!
Kachina: Checkered Zuni Warrior
Artist: Tiffany Tsabetsaye, Zuni, New Mexico
Dimensions: 9 in. Tall Base is 4-1/2 in. x 7-1/8 in.