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Although some archaeological investigations have taken place, they have not been able to clarify which tribe, Zuni or Hopi, developed the Kachina Cult first. Both Zuni and Hopi kachinas are different from each other but have certain similarities and features.


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In addition, both Zuni and Hopi kachinas are highly featured and detailed, while the kachinas of the Rio Grande Pueblos look primitive in feature. The Hopis have built their cult into a more elaborate ritual, and seem to have a greater sense of drama and artistry than the Zunis. On the other hand, the latter have developed a more sizable folklore concerning their kachinas. Kachina dolls are small brightly painted wooden "dolls" which are miniature representations of the masked impersonators.

These figurines are given to children not as toys, but as objects to be treasured and studied so that the young Hopis may become familiar with the appearance of the kachinas as part of their religious training.

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During Kachina ceremonies, each child receives their own doll. The dolls are then taken home and hung up on the walls or from the rafters of the house, so that they can be constantly seen by the children. The purpose of this is to help the children learn to know what the different kachinas look like. It is said that the Hopi recognize over kachinas and many more were invented in the last half of the nineteenth century. Among the Hopi, kachina dolls are traditionally carved by the maternal uncles and given to uninitiated girls at the Bean Dance Spring Bean Planting Ceremony and Home Dance Ceremony in the summer.

These dolls are very difficult to classify not only because the Hopis have a vague idea about their appearance and function, but also because these ideas differ from mesa to mesa and pueblo to pueblo. Many Pueblo Indians, particularly the Hopi and Zuni, have ceremonies in which masked men, called kachinas, play an important role. Masked members of the tribe dress up as kachinas for religious ceremonies that take place many times throughout the year.

These ceremonies are social occasions for the village, where friends and relatives are able to come from neighboring towns to see the "dance" and partake in the feasts that are always prepared. When a Hopi man places a mask upon his head and wears the appropriate costume and body paint, he believes that he has lost his personal identity and has received the spirit of the kachina he is supposed to represent.

Kachina Dolls History

Besides the male kachinas are many female kachinas called kachin-manas, but women never take the part of male and female kachinas. Hopi clowns are an integral part of Hopi Kachina ceremonials where they participate in sacred rituals as well as unique clown performances—some with direct contact with the spectators.

The clown's performance centers on humor and entertainment, but also they monitor the assembled crowd and provide policing activities over both the Kachina performers and the audience. Mockery is a tool used to warn spectators of non-Hopi behavior, and generally long remembered by the recipient of clown attention. The clown personages play dual roles.

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Their prominent role is to amuse the audience during the extended periods of the outdoor celebrations and Kachina Dances where they perform as jesters or circus clowns. Their more subtle and sacred role is in the Hopis' ritual performances.


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The sacred functions of the clowns are relatively private, if not held secret by the Hopi, and as a result have received less public exposure. When observing the preparations taking place in a Kiva of a number of Pai'yakyamu" clowns getting ready for their ceremonial performance, Alexander Stephen was told, "We Koyala [Koshari] are the fathers of all Kachina.

Hopi Kachina figure

The Hopi have four groups of clowns, some are sacred. Adding to the difficulty in identifying and classifying these groups, there are a number of kachinas whose actions are identified as clown antics. Barton Wright's Clowns of the Hopi identifies, classifies, and illustrates the extensive array of clown personages. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. See also: Hopi Kachina dolls. This section needs additional citations for verification.

Kachina Cult - Ancient History Encyclopedia

Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Hopi Kachina Dolls: with a Key to their Identification rev. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. This is a Hopi Kachina. USA: Univ. Retrieved Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

ASU Libraries Hidden Treasures: Labriola Center Kachina Dolls

You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. View as Grid List. The Kachina has no spiritual significance in the Navajo culture; it is a craft learned as a way for some Navajo people to earn a living. Navajo Kachina makers have borrowed from many cultures over the years. It is clear upon examination of these dolls that the Navajo Kachina is not handcarved from cottonwood root as are the Hopi Katsinam. The body parts of the Navajo Kachina are machine made; the dolls are then pegged, glued together and handfinished by the Navajo maker. Each of these Navajo Kachinas is individually handcrafted and handpainted.

No two are alike in feathers or clothing. We will try our best to fill your order with your preferred color, but all characters are not available in all colors at all times. Though the Hopi Katsina dolls hold tremendous spiritual and cultural significance, the Navajo dolls do not. The Navajo do not hold any major religious or cultural beliefs around the Kachina dolls; however, they bring to their craft a unique eye and an artistic style that is not present in other Native American Kachinas. Though the Navajo Kachina dolls borrow much of their posture and basic symbolism from the Hopi, the Navajo are free to design and decorate their dolls with a rich flourish that would ultimately spoil the spiritual significance of their pieces for Puebloans.

JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. View as Grid List. The Kachina has no spiritual significance in the Navajo culture; it is a craft learned as a way for some Navajo people to earn a living.

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Navajo Kachina makers have borrowed from many cultures over the years. It is clear upon examination of these dolls that the Navajo Kachina is not handcarved from cottonwood root as are the Hopi Katsinam. The body parts of the Navajo Kachina are machine made; the dolls are then pegged, glued together and handfinished by the Navajo maker.

Each of these Navajo Kachinas is individually handcrafted and handpainted. No two are alike in feathers or clothing. We will try our best to fill your order with your preferred color, but all characters are not available in all colors at all times. Though the Hopi Katsina dolls hold tremendous spiritual and cultural significance, the Navajo dolls do not. The Navajo do not hold any major religious or cultural beliefs around the Kachina dolls; however, they bring to their craft a unique eye and an artistic style that is not present in other Native American Kachinas.