Friday, July 13, 2012

What is a Kachina?

Kachina Dolls at A Treasured Occasion Gift Shop in
Page, AZ
If you've traveled at all in southwest, you've undoubted heard the word "kachina." (Also katchina or katcina pronounced in Hopi, like the latter spelling katsina.)

A kachina is a spirit being representing anything from the natural realm or cosmos. Kachina cults spread from the Hopi in Northern Arizona to also include the Zuni, Acoma, Isleta and Laguna Pueblo Native American tribes in New Mexico.

It can be the spirit of a respected ancestor, a deity, an element, an animal or bird like a buffalo or eagle, a location, a quality, a natural phenomenon or even a concept. The Hopi and Pueblo cultures have over 400 different kachinas.

Kachina was the most widespread religion by the Hopi and Pueblo practiced about 200 years before the Spaniards arrived in the West.
"The central theme of the kachina cult is the presence of life in all objects that fill the universe. Everything has an essence or a life force, and humans must interact with these or fail to survive." ~ Frank Anderson, Anthropolgist
The Hopi believe that the kachinas live on the Humphrey's Peak, the tallest mountain in Arizona. Every year, between the winter solstice and mid-July, the kachinas come down to the villages to dance and sing, bring rain for the harvest and to give gifts to the children.

Kachina Dolls

Hopi Kachina Dolls are made of cottonwood and are made by the men of the village then given to uninitiated girls during various ceremonies. After the ceremony, the dolls are hung on walls and are meant to be treasured and studied not to be idols of worship or children's toys.

Kachina Dancers

As part of ceremonial dances, the dancers dress as the kachinas of the various spirits. This video is of a Hopi Buffalo Dance. Notice the masked dancers dressed as the kachinas of the buffalo.

Click here for more information on the Hopi Kachina Dolls

Stop by our store in Page, AZ and check out our collection of authentic kachina dolls. 

A Treasured Occasion

629 Elm Street, Page, AZ 86040

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