Hopi Katsina – Garland’s Indian Jewelry – Oak Creek Canyon – Sedona

Hopi Katsina – Garland’s Indian Jewelry – Oak Creek Canyon – Sedona
4th of july crafts
Image by Al_HikesAZ
This is a Hopi Katsina outside of Garland’s Indian Jewelry in Indian Gardens in Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona.

Hopi Kachina Dolls are effigies made of cottonwood that embody the characteristics of the ceremonial Kachina, the masked spirits of the Hopi Native American tribe. According to the Hopi, Kachina dolls are objects meant to be treasured and studied, and are not to be considered idols of worship or children’s toys.

Cultural Context

The Hopi people live primarily on three mesas in Northeastern Arizona, about 70 miles from Flagstaff, Arizona. The Hopi believe that the majority of spirits (Kachinas) reside on the Humphreys Peak, approx. 60 miles West of Hopi lands. Each year, throughout the period from winter solstice to mid-July, these spirits, in the form of Kachinas, come down to the villages to dance and sing, to bring rain for the upcoming harvest, and to give gifts to the children.[1]

The Kachinas are known to be the spirits of deities, natural elements or animals, or the deceased ancestors of the Hopi.[2] Prior to each Kachina ceremony, the men of the village will spend days studiously making dolls in the likeness of the Kachinam represented in that particular ceremony. The dolls are then passed on to the daughters of the village by the Giver Kachina during the ceremony.[3] Following the ceremony, the dolls are hung on the walls of the pueblo and are meant to be studied in order to learn the characteristics of that certain Kachina. Edward Kennard, co-author of Hopi Kachinas, says concerning the purpose of the kachina doll, “Essentially it is a means of education; it is a gift at dance-time; it is a decorative article for the home, but above all it is a constant reminder of the Kachinas.”[4]

A kachina ( /kəˈtʃiːnə/; also katchina or katcina; Hopi: katsina /kətˈsiːnə/, plural katsinim /kətˈsiːnɨm/) is a spirit being in western Pueblo cosmology and religious practices.[1] The western Pueblo, Native American cultures located in the southwestern United States, include Hopi, Zuni, Tewa Village (on the Hopi Reservation), Acoma Pueblo, and Laguna Pueblo. The kachina cult has spread to more eastern Pueblos, e.g. from Laguna to Isleta. The term also refers to the kachina dancers, masked members of the tribe who dress up as kachinas for religious ceremonies. Kachina dolls are wooden figures representing kachinas which are given as gifts to children.

A kachina can represent anything in the natural world or cosmos, from a revered ancestor to an element, a location, a quality, a natural phenomenon, or a concept. There are more than 400 different kachinas in Hopi and Pueblo culture. The local pantheon of kachinas varies in each pueblo community; there may be kachinas for the sun, stars, thunderstorms, wind, corn, insects, and many other concepts. Kachinas are understood as having humanlike relationships; they may have uncles, sisters, and grandmothers, and may marry and have children. Although not worshipped,[2] each is viewed as a powerful being who, if given veneration and respect, can use their particular power for human good, bringing rainfall, healing, fertility, or protection, for example. One observer has written:[3]

"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."