four hundred years ago, the Spanish first stepped into the
arid mesa lands of northern Arizona. Long before that, the
Hopi (the Peaceful People) occupied three mesas just east of
the San Francisco Peaks, near Flagstaff. Today, Hopi life on
those three mesas is much the same as it was before the
Through the ages, the
Hopi people have always faced the ever present urgency for
water. Water to grow corn, which is central to Hopi
existence; water to drink, water to survive for yet another
millennium. Each December the Kachina spirits, who live in
the San Francisco Peaks and in other high mountains, come
and go from the Hopi kivas. Until July, they help to bring
the rain that is needed to renew the land and to make it
ready for the new growing season. Then, the Kachina spirits
go back to the San Francisco Peaks to rest.
From the winter
solstice through July, Kachina ceremonies fill the villages
of Hopi. Hopi men personify kachinas to give shape and visual understanding to the invisible
Kachina spirits who have sustained the Hopi life for a
thousand years or more. Today, a Hopi man who participates in the Hopi
ceremonies believes that his personal identity is transformed
into the Kachina spirit he represents.
Hopi children believe
in the Kachinas. Kachina dolls are given to the children so
that they will become familiar with the Kachina spirits
(there are well over 200 of them) as a part of their
religious training. (Although there is no Hopi word for
religion, the word is a convenient way for us to express the
Hopi belief system and the Hopi way of life.)
Since the middle of the
nineteenth century, Kachina dolls have attracted the
attention and fascination of people everywhere in the world
including scholars, art collectors, and tourists. Today,
some people collect Kachina dolls as curios or objects of
art. Others collect them because the Kachina dolls somehow
seem to give them a kind of spiritual link into a world
about which they know very little.
In this Native
American Images feature we will share images of the
Kachinas through our own collection of miniature kachina
dolls created by carver Gil Maldonado. You can read
more about Gil Maldonado as you
visit this spot in Native American Images.
In this presentation,
we will draw upon two scholars who have studied Kachinas
extensively. Barton Wright, author of Hopi Kachinas
and Harold S. Coulton, author of Hopi Kachina Dolls
with a Key to their Identification. We will use
Harold S. Coulton's keys (hsc) to identify the Kachina dolls
shown here so that you might follow up with your own further
study. Also we have drawn information from Barton Wright's
book Kachinas: A Hopi Artist's Documentary.
Palhik Mana - Butterfly Kachina Maiden - hsc120
A very deceptive and unclear Kachina. Sometimes
she is the maid who grinds corn in the kiva. Sometimes
she is not considered to be a Kachina at all. While
beautiful, the Butterfly Kachina Maiden does not appear to
be a major Kachina figure.
Kachina - Chasing Star Kachina - hsc148
A beautiful figure, Na-ngasohu appears in the Bean
Dance Procession and carries a bell in his right hand.
He wears a large eagle plume fan behind his head.
Sho-adta - Chakwaina's Grandmother - hsc162
Chakwiana represents Esteban the Moor who led the
search for the Seven Cities of Cibola. Supposedly
Chakwiana was killed at Zuni. Chakwiana is found in
many pueblos along the Rio Grand. The story is that
this beloved Kachina is her own grandmother.
Mana - Long-haired Kachina Maiden - hsc191
Hano Mana appears in the Bean Dance on Second Mesa
and in the Water Serpent Ceremony on First Mesa. She
holds spruce and corn in each hand.
- Rabbit Stick Kachina - hsc222
Little is known about Makto. The doll is
derived from an old mask found at First Mesa and described
by J. Walter Fewkes in 1903.
Kachina or Tungwup whipper Kachina - hsc14
Hu Kachinas whip children initiates, themselves and
the Crow Mother as a gesture of purification. Usually
the face of the Hu Kachina is black with white spots rather
than yellow as shown here.
Rugan A - Rasp
Kachina - hsc238
known as Tumoala or the Devil's Claw Kachina. Devil's Claw
is a plant growing at Hopi that can hold the clouds.
And so, it is used as a Kachina.
Awatovi Soyok Wu-uti
- Ogre Woman - hsc25
appeared at the Bean Dance at First Mesa and may carry a saw
or a knife and a burden basket in which to put children.It
is believed that she may have come from Awatovi, a destroyed
- Prarie Falcon Kachina - hsc72
He carries a yucca leaf whip to whip his victims when
he appears as a runner during the Soyohim dances in the
spring. It is thought that he brought the first
throwing stick to Hopi, a stick shaped after his own wing.
- Mocking Kachina - hsc107
The Mocking Kachina makes fun of everyone when it
appears at the Mixed Kachina Dance. He mocks the
actions of anyone who passes within his view.
Stories differ about this Kachina. It could be
the spirit of a young man who was changing clothes with his
girlfriend in the cornfield when he spotted enemies
approaching, or it could be a young woman who was
interrupted by enemy attack as her mother fixed her
hair. Different villages have different
interpretations of He-e-e
Tsitoto - Flower
Kachina - hsc45
Tsitoto appears in the Bean Dance, Water Serpent
Ceremony and mixed Kachina dances. This
colorful Kachina carries yucca blades and swats each person
that he meets, perhaps in a purification role.
Kachina - Eagle Kachina - hsc71
The beautiful Eagle Kachina sometimes appears at
night ceremonies in March along with the Mud Heads. The
dancer imitates the motion and the cry of an eagle to
- Heheya's Uncle - hsc36
He is a general Kachina that is found only on Third
Mesa. He guards the Heheyas as they rest between parts
of the ceremonies.
Kachin-mana - Navajo Kachina Maiden - hsc138
Very popular with the Hopi people, she represents a
caricature of the Navajo. She appears at various times
throughout the Kachina season.
Kachina - Sun Kachina - hsc146
He represents the spirit of the Sun God and
sometimes appears in regular Kachina dance. He is not
Mana - Salako Maiden - hsc118
Rising seven or eight feet above the plaza floor,
these dancers are truly awe inspiring. She is the
sister of Salako Taka, her brother, and they always appear
- A Runner - hsc183
A really unpleasant Kachina, he is the dung-feeding
Kachina. The loser in a race may have his mouth
stuffed with a ball of dry dung, or have his face smeared
with it by this Kwitanonoa.
- Kachina Chief - hsc7
Eototo is chief of all the Kachinas and knows all of
the ceremonies and plays a very complex role in all of them.
Eototo controls the seasons.
- Kachina Chief's Lieutenant - hsc8
Unique to Third Mesa, and appears along with Eototo
at the Powamu Ceremony. He performs according to
Eototo's direction and follows Eototo from place to place
throughout the ceremony.
For an interesting narrative on
several Hopi Kachina dolls, visit the River Trading Post pod network where
Ryon Polequaptewa discusses the meaning of five different kachinas.
This by no means inclusive of the
over 200 different kachina beings in the Hopi culture, yet it will provide
you with insight into the reasons and the simple and real purpose of the
kachina in the Hopi and Pueblo culture
Polequaptewa Tells About Five Kachinas
Kachina Dolls - Harold S. Coulton
Hopi Kachinas - Barton Wright
Kachinas: A Hopi Artist's Documentary - Barton
Wright, with paintings by Cliff Bahnimptewa