For students of the Hopi Kachina (Katsina) we offer a selection of wonderful pieces created by carver Gil Moldonado. But we also present a portfolio by Homer Bolter and an excellent video description of several Kachina spirits, from the River Trading Post Pod Network, by carver Ryon Polequaptewa.
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
Kachina - Chasing Star Kachina - hsc148
Sho-adta - Chakwaina's Grandmother - hsc162
Kachina or Tungwup whipper Kachina - hsc14
Awatovi Soyok Wu-uti
- Ogre Woman - hsc25
- Prarie Falcon Kachina - hsc72
Tsitoto - Flower
Kachina - hsc45
Kachina - Eagle Kachina - hsc71
Mana - Salako Maiden - hsc118
- A Runner - hsc183
- Kachina Chief's Lieutenant - hsc8
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