Encyclopedia Article


In Zuni ceremonial tradition, human dancers wear sacred outfits and masks to impersonate katchinas (spirit beings) that preside over Zuni life and their natural surroundings. Ceremonial dances are performed regularly, following a detailed calendar of seasonal prayers and rituals. Pa'-u-ti-wa is a winter solstice katchina who is considered the most venerable and powerful of the Zuni pantheon. He represents beauty, dignity, benevolence, prosperity, and generosity. As the chief of the spirit village of Kothluala, Pa'-u-ti-wa has many religious duties such as controlling the ceremonial calendar, receiving the spirits of the dead, and answering human appeals and prayers, often by sending various helping katchinas to visit pueblos.

Photo Credit: 

"Lewis Numkena, Jr.: Katchina Dancer, December 18, 2008" by bunky's pickle is licensed under CC BY-SA.

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