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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 by carver Ryon Polequaptewa.

120.jpg (301141 bytes)Over 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 Spanish arrival.

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.

120.jpg (301141 bytes) 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.

148.jpg (210752 bytes)Na-ngasohu 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.

162.jpg (195043 bytes)Chakwaina 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.

191.jpg (205073 bytes)Hano 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.

222.jpg (296023 bytes)Makto - 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.

232.jpg (211322 bytes)Hu 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
238.jpg (209147 bytes)Also 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
25.jpg (160348 bytes)She 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 pueblo.

72.jpg (197491 bytes)Kisa - 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.

107.jpg (171869 bytes)Kwikwilyaqa - 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.



57.jpg (60167 bytes)He-e-e - hsc21
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 - hsc4545.jpg (66296 bytes)
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.

71.jpg (64084 bytes)Kwa 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 perfection.


36.jpg (57423 bytes)Heheya-aumutaqa - 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.


138.jpg (62687 bytes)Tasaf 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.



146.jpg (76525 bytes)Tawa Kachina - Sun Kachina - hsc146
He represents the spirit of the Sun God and  sometimes appears in regular Kachina dance.  He is not frequently impersonated.


118.jpg (70915 bytes)Salako 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 together. 


183.jpg (56403 bytes)Kwitanonoa - 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.


7.jpg (59203 bytes)Eototo - 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.

8.jpg (72289 bytes)Aholi - 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

Ryon Polequaptewa Tells About Five Kachinas



Recommended Reading

Hopi Kachina Dolls - Harold S. Coulton
Hopi Kachinas - Barton Wright
Kachinas: A Hopi Artist's Documentary - Barton Wright, with paintings by Cliff Bahnimptewa