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Zuñi people

Zuñi people

Artist's cultural association:
Zuñi people
New Mexico, United States of America
Wakasi, cow kachina [Cow Kachina Doll called "Wakasi"] c.1910-1940 Place made: New Mexico, United States of America
Materials & Technique: sculptures, ceremonial objects, wood, leather, feathers, cotton, wool, fibre, dyes, nails

Dimensions: 76.5 h cm
Acknowledgement: Max Ernst Collection, purchased 1985
Accession No: NGA 85.1818
Subject: Pre-Columbian art


  • The Zuñi are a native American people who live near Zuñi in New Mexico. Kachinas are supernatural beings who assist the people by providing  rainfall, healthy animals and abundant crops. They are represented in ceremonies by kachina dancers, as well as by sculptures. Popular animal kachinas include deer, bear, antelope and buffalo. This wooden kachina figure is called Wakasi. It has a human body and the head of a cow. Look at how it is dressed, with feathers, wool and cloth. See its large horns. Can you imagine how the dancer dressed like this would move?

    Activity: With adult supervision make your own kachina doll using materials such as old cereal boxes, feathers, bits of old fabric and other recycled materials you can find in your home.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010