"SPIRITUALITY: Kachina's & Ceromonial Dance" Hopi / Dogon Connection Pt. 1


The American Indians / Native Americans of the Southwest have prayed to the great spirits to bless their world with good weather, abundant game and a bountiful harvest for over 2,000 years . The Pueblo people believe that each year, just after the winter solstice, beings known as Kachinas bring them messages from these spirits, walking upon the earth to interact with the Pueblo people. At the end of the planting season, they return to the spirit world. Since each tribe may have their own distinct Kachinas, there is thought to be over 400 of them.

The Kachina dolls history begins with the Hopi people clearly, they were first to create Kachina dolls, as a way to teach children about Kachinas. During the season when the Kachinas visit the visible world, Hopi men dress in Kachina costumes to perform dances and ceremonies, in order to interact with the spiritual beings. If the rituals are properly performed, the Kachinas may communicate through the men who portray them or may appear to the tribe in clouds or mist. Only men are allowed to personify the Kachinas. To educate the rest of the tribe about Kachinas, men carve dolls, traditionally from a single piece of cottonwood root, so that the whole tribe can experience a connection.

Photographs of Kachina dolls date back to around the 1800s, during the early exploration of the West, evident in both Hopi and Zuni tribes. The dolls were not used as toys, but rather were hung from walls or displayed on the floor. The dolls were passed down from generation to generation, staying with the tribes for hundreds of years.

It was not until the late 1800s and early 1900s that they began to be sold in the marketplace, and Native Americans began to create Kachina dolls specifically to be sold outside the tribe. Some of today’s Hopi people see Kachina dolls as a bridge between Hopis and non-Hopis. The Navajo people began making their own Kachina dolls in the 20th century, adding their own decorative elements, including beads and turquoise.

Today, Kachina dolls history continues as Kachina dolls, both old and new, are perceived as one of the most collectible Native American crafts on the market. An ancient and rare Kachina sold for around $250,000. Fine contemporary Kachina dolls can sell for as much as $50,000. Cottonwood root is still the preferred wood. The material is light, easy to work with and carve, also very sturdy.

So as already stated; Hopi Native Americans are clearly recognized as the first American Indians /Native Americans to create kachina dolls in the image of their Kachina Spirits. Other tribes later adopted similar kachina doll making skills, but elaborated their designs to include fur, leather, beads and other realistic objects in their kachina doll making practices.

The Hopi conceive of the arrival of the kachinas, also called Katsinas, as coming with a "gift burden." That is, every Hopi individual carries with himself or herself the obligation and constant concern to do the right thing while caring for one another.

Hopi Kachina dolls are usually wood with painted designs. They are carved from cottonwood roots and can be 1 to 18 inches tall. They can be male or female, shaped and painted to depict clowns, spirits, the seasons, maidens and braves. They sometimes have eagle feather headdresses, leather boots and jewelry that has been handed down from previous generations. They are a common sight hanging on the walls in Hopi households.

Thus, the gifts the kachinas give to the audience as part of the dance are understood by the Hopi as na'mangwu (gift burden) -- they are gifts that symbolize the prosperity, fulfillment, long life, etc. that are rewards for the constant burden of living according to the moral imperatives that underpin the Hopi life way.

They are metaphorical expressions of the obligatory burden of the kachinas to the people, being symbols of the kachinas' promise of bringing life fulfillment to the Hopi if the Hopi live by the tenets of the Hopi way of life.

Remember that rain is the ultimate gift from the kachinas, for it insures that corn will grow and the community will survive.

Hopi principles and practices of living are packaged in beautifully evocative kachina song words and phrases. The songs challenge the audience, individually and collectively, to weigh the meaning of the words and, in so doing, mentally revisit instances of discord that may endanger the community's well-being.

In both their admonishment of these transgressions and their recall of the past perfect world, the kachinas inspire the Hopi listeners toward actions that will restore harmony and insure the health and continuity of the community. When the songs are performed as part of ritual performances, they evoke reverence as well as contribute to an experiential sense that helps every Hopi to connect to these ideals in a heartfelt way.

Because the words and phrases stimulate vivid mental images, they are effective reminders of the ideal life and of the practices that must be followed to attain this life. In addition, the songs, after they are ceremonially (publicly) performed, are intended to be sung as people go about their daily lives -- as they work in their fields and as they go about their household tasks.

Children fantasize about kachinas, using gifts from the kachinas as they play pretending to be kachinas. In this way, the do's and do nots of living the Hopi way are instilled throughout an individual's lifetime through constant exposure to these principles.

Hopi Kachina Song: Tuuqayungwa'a pewi'i Uma yeep itaatawiyu Taawi'yvayaqw'ö Ima'a tuuvelvolmanatu Akw'a ngumantani Pas kur antsa Yaayanhaqam qatsi yeesiwa Maana alöngkimi wuuve'e Maataqölöva'a qaa'ömanatuyu Hee hee Qatsi naatuwaniw' aye'e alöngkiva'a

The words roughly translated into English: You, here, listen to our song When those butterfly maidens [Hopi girls] learn our song They will sing it as they grind corn

It must be true that life is lived in this way When a girl visits a home not her own She ought to be seen [singing] and grinding corn

Their Meaning and Tribal Development Within the Hopi and Others

The Kachina dolls are objects made in human or human-like shape, and they are common in Native American ritual,often referred to in mythology. Perhaps most common are the great variety of Pueblo kachina dolls. Navajos carve ritual kachina dolls for secret use in some healing rites. Native American Iroquois have also taken to carving similar dolls in the False Face image.

Although sold as objects of art, the spectacular kachina dolls retain a valued religious role, particularly in educating children. Hopi Native Americans use kachina dolls to instruct their children in the ways of Hopi tradition and belief. Kachina dolls are important during ceremonies when they are passed out to children.

Native Americans, in addition to the southwestern tribes, utilize kachina dolls to a lesser extent. The Seneca use dolls in divination (Dream Divining). The Nooksack consider a person's soul to look like a doll (sitec) image of him or her. Wanagemeswak (Penobscot) are dwarfs that leave lucky dolls to be found by people. A Pequot woman used a doll to overcome a giant. The Tlingit hold that sickness is caused by witches, who use dolls to inflict it.

The Seminole of Oklahoma and Florida used clay human effigies to avenge murders. Four male relatives of a homicide victim participated in this ritual. The doll maker, joined by the other three men, placed the doll in the center of a hot fire. If the clay figure fell over as it turned red, the murderer would die in four days. If the effigy remained erect, the murderer had strong counter-powers and would probably become ill but not die.

Kachina Dolls and The Hopi Native American

The Hopi Native American Tribe has always valued kachina dolls because kachina spirits are extremely important to their everyday life. Kachina dolls are made in the image of various kachina spirits which the Hopi worship.

The kiva has been at the heart of Hopi tradition for over one thousand years. Kiva ceremonies take place in sacred, round ceremonial chambers. Hopi Native Americans believe life began in the kivas. The Hopi believes that first people to live on earth left their dark home in the earth's interior and climbed from the kiva upward toward the light and the present world. They also believe they will return to the underworld after death.

Kachinas were the spiritual beings who taught the Hopis how to live on earth after their emergence. The kachina dolls are religious icons. They represent the spiritual essence of everything in the world. In a way they're like statues of saints. The word "Kachina," Katsina or Qatsina, means "life Bringer," in the Hopi language.

Among the Native American tribes like the Zuni, Apache and Hopi living in the Pueblos of the Southwest, the rain deity kachina is a spirit who is responsible for their survival. Without the kachinas help, water in the rivers will not flow and the crops will not be abundant.

Native American kachina carvers use cottonwood root, which is carved and painted to represent objects from Hopi spiritual beliefs.

As far back as the 16th century, the Spanish wrote about seeing bizarre images of the devil, most likely kachina dolls, hanging in Pueblo homes. Older style kachinas are usually adorned with fur, bird feathers, turquoise and other natural elements to make them look realistic.

The first kachina doll was collected from the Hopi in 1857 by Dr. Palmer, a U.S. Army surgeon. He presented it to the National Museum. Military men and government agents were fascinated by the dolls from the beginning. Unfortunately, the Hopi sold them.

The Southwestern Kachina Rituals: Plaza Dances

Public kachina dances performed in village plazas during the spring and summer months, culminating a longer series of secret or private rites. These events are sponsored to celebrate a special event and include feasting and socializing, as well as dances that both entertain and enact Hopi religion. The dances are unquestionably religious in character, presenting kachinas and emphasizing fertility, rain, health, and life. These dances are either mixed dances, where each dancer presents a different type of kachina, or line dances, where all the dancers present the same kachina. Clowns often perform during the dances, especially in the intervals between kachina dance sets.

Heluta is father of the kachinas, creator of deer; he lives in Shipap. As father of kachinas he is first to appear at kachina dances, announcing the kachinas to the people by means of signs. Heluta is a figure in many stories.

In the antelope dance there is a transition to the purely demoniac kachina dances, the chief task of which is to pray for a good crop harvest. In Oraibi, for example, there exists still today an antelope clan, whose chief task is weather magic.

Whereas the imitative animal dance must be understood in terms of the mimic magic of hunting culture, the kachina dances, corresponding to cyclic peasant festivals, have a character entirely of their own which, however, is revealed only at sites far removed from European culture. This cultural, magical masked dance, with its entreaties focused on inanimate nature, can be observed in its more or less original form only where the railroads have yet to penetrate and where—as in the Mold villages—even the veneer of official Catholicism no longer exists.

The children are taught to regard the kachinas with a deep religious awe. Every child takes the kachinas for supernatural, terrifying creatures, and the moment of the child's initiation into the nature of the kachinas, into the society of masked dancers itself, represents the most important turning point in the education of the American Indians / Native Americans,

Winter solstice ceremony.

The Hopi Ritual Cycle is an annual cycle divided roughly in half. The period beginning with the winter solstice and lasting until a few weeks past the summer solstice is distinguished by the frequent appearance of kachinas, masked messenger spirit beings.

Soyal is a winter solstice ritual designed to turn the sun back in its course. Combined with this may be a ritual in which medicine is prepared and either drunk or rubbed on the body to promote health and strength. The first kachina to appear, thereby opening the kachina season, is Soyal, a shabbily dressed figure who totters along in the movements of an old man. He makes his way to kivas, placing prayer feathers (paho) and sprinkling cornmeal. Other Soyal actions include the preparation of prayer feathers for relatives, crops, animals, houses, cars, and personal well-being.

Hopi Niman Ceremony

The Niman Ceremony, also called the Home Dance, is the last appearance of kachinas at Hopi before they depart for their homes in the San Francisco Mountains. This early August event closes the kachina season. The most common masked dancers on this occasion are the Hemis kachinas, although others may appear. In its solemnity, this kachina dance differs from the plaza dances that precede it throughout the spring and summer. No clowns are present.

Kachinas and Kachina Dolls- Their Meaning to the tribes

Corn Maiden Kachina Doll

Corn woman or maiden who is a figure in many stories. She may appear as a kachina mana, that is, a female kachina. At Cochiti, for example, Yellow Woman kachina wears a green mask and has her hair done in butterfly whorls on the sides of her head. She wears an embroidered ceremonial blanket as a dress and an all-white manta over her shoulders. Yellow Woman tends to be a stock heroine in many stories, taking on a wide range of identities, including bride, witch, chiefs daughter, bear woman, and ogress.

Sun Kachina and Corn Maiden Dolls

A despised boy who claims to be the grandson of Paiyatemu, the sun youth kachina, is tested by his father. As a reward for passing the tests, he is given the power to marry the daughters—Corn Maidens—of eight rain priests. The powerful songs known by these Corn Maidens cause so much rain that it floods, and the people retreat to Corn Mountain.

The flood finally stops when the young son and daughter of the village chief are sacrificed. Dressed in ceremonial costume and carrying great bundles of prayer sticks, they step off the mesa into the flood—the boy to the west, the girl to the east. They become the Boy and Girl Cliffs of Corn Mountain, the place of a shrine considered to give blessings in conception and childbirth.

Kokopelli Kachina Doll

The Humpbacked Flute Player who appears widely in rock art and ancient pottery throughout the southwestern United States. Often humpbacked, carrying a flute, and it hyphallic, this figure has become a widely used motif on pottery, jewelry, and other Native American items. Although his origins and the significance of his prehistoric appearances are speculative, he has contemporary presence as a figure in Hopi stories and as a Hopi kachina, where he is characterized as a seducer of girls, a bringer of babies, and a hunting tutelary.

Heluta Kachina Doll

Heluta is father of the kachinas, creator of deer; he lives in Shipap. As father of kachinas he is first to appear at kachina dances, announcing the kachinas to the people by means of signs. Heluta is a figure in many stories.

Kobictaiya Kachina Doll

These are the powerful spirit beings similar to kachinas. A story tells how it was determined that they would never know sexual intercourse. The daughter of a war chief dies. Her body is stolen by witches (kanadyaiya) who revive her in order to seduce her. The Kobictaiya come to her rescue.

Rather than fight for her, they decide to play a game with the witches. If the witches win, they will get the girl to use as they desire. If the Kobictaiya win, they get the girl but must forgo sexual relations forever. The Kobictaiya are the victors.

The Kobictaiya appear in masked personated form only at the winter solstice ceremony, during which they promote fertility and aid the sick. They live either in the east at the sunrise or in a crater southeast of Acoma.

Pautiwa- Zuni Chief Kachina Doll

Pautiwa, chief of kachinas, summons people from Zuni to Kachina Village to gamble with the kachinas. They bring goods with them to stake on the game. The kachinas win, and the six men who lose are trapped under the floor. Realizing that anyone else who loses to the kachinas will become trapped also, the people send a young man, despised by all, to gamble with them. They consider his loss of no consequence. However, the despised young man has allied himself with Spider Woman by giving her an offering. He challenges the kachinas and, with Spider Woman's help, wins every time. At each loss, one of the kachinas drops beneath the floor. The kachinas soon stop gambling and pay in deer for their losses. They

Soyok Kachina Doll

A ritualized frightening by horrible-looking kachina figures (Soyok) in an effort to discipline naughty children. The event occurs during Powamu. Upon a parent's request, several of these ogre figures appear at the home of the naughty child. They demand impossible tasks of the children, warning them they will be back to check on them in several days. Of course, when they return the children have not accomplished the assigned tasks and are usually hiding somewhere in the house. The parents present the children to account for their actions.

The Soyok kachinas, hideous in appearance and equipped with cleavers and saws, demand that the child be turned over to be eaten. The parents refuse to release the child, but the process ends up costing the family all its stores of food. The Soyok Kachinas, loaded with food, host a feast for the community and, it is hoped, the child's behavior improves.

Native American Zuni Kachina Dolls

A group of kachinas who live to the south of Zuni and are the enemies of the kachinas who live at Kachina Village. The hunting territories of these groups overlap. The Kanaakwe decide to conceal all the deer by hiding them in their corrals. The kachinas of Kachina Village hunt without even seeing any game. Learning that the deer have been concealed, they challenge the Kanaakwe to a fight over hunting rights.

The Kanaakwe string their bows with yucca fiber, while the kachinas string theirs with deer sinew. When it rains, the deer sinew stretches while the yucca fiber tightens, enabling the Kanaakwe to be victorious. As a result, the deer belong to the Kanaakwe, who are responsible for bringing them to the Zuni people, while the kachinas of Kachina Village bring the Zuni people corn, seed, and other things.

This story is often included in the stories of Zuni Emergence. In some versions the Kanaakwe are led by a giantess who keeps her heart in a rattle. Other versions account for the origination of the Ahayuta, the twin warrior sons of the Sun Father (Yatokka taccu), in response to the Kanaakwe concealing the deer. In some versions, the sons travel to their father to obtain weapons to kill the giantess leader of the Kanaakwe.

Rain priests are associated with each of the six directions, that is, the four cardinal directions plus zenith and nadir. They live on the shores of oceans and in springs. They come to Zuni on the winds in the form of clouds, rainstorms, fog, and dew.

Pautiwa, chief of kachinas, summons people from Zuni to Kachina Village to gamble with the kachinas. They bring goods with them to stake on the game. The kachinas win, and the six men who lose are trapped under the floor. Realizing that anyone else who loses to the kachinas will become trapped also, the people send a young man, despised by all, to gamble with them. They consider his loss of no consequence. However, the despised young man has allied himself with Spider Woman by giving her an offering. He challenges the kachinas and, with Spider Woman's help, wins every time. At each loss, one of the kachinas drops beneath the floor.

The kachinas soon stop gambling and pay in deer for their losses. They tell the people that the six men they have lost will remain at Kachina Village. The people discover that mist and fog come from the place where the lost men sit. The men tell the people they have become Rain Priests. Whenever the people want anything they are to come and make prayer offerings, and the Rain Priests will help them.

In accounting for the origin of the Rain Priests, this story explains why the men who personify the Rain Priests go on pilgrimage to the lake under which Kachina Village lies, and why people go to Kachina Village upon death.

The rites that initiate Pueblo children into their adult religious lives include the revelation that kachinas are humans wearing masks. This often-disenchanting experience is conjoined with the demand that initiated youth not reveal this knowledge to the uninitiated. Stories of what might happen to them if they tell are related to reinforce the importance of keeping this initiation secret.

The Zuni tell a story set at the time during the flood when the people are living on Corn Mountain. An initiation is held and the initiates warned against telling the secret. While playing at making clay figures of kachinas, one youth reveals that the kachinas are the children's fathers and uncles dressed up in masks. Dangerous kachinas are summoned. They break open the boy's house where he is hiding, cut off his head and, leaving the body lying in his house, kick his head all the way to Kachina Village.

Summary of Descriptions of the Kachina Spirits

* Old Man Kachina Spirit (Wuwuyamo): Old Man kachina is an elder who comes to the clowns and attempts to get people to right their wrongs.

* Buffalo Maiden Dancer Kachina: The Buffalo Maiden kachina is a dancer, not actually a kachina spirit. The legend of the Buffalo Maiden comes from the Plains Indians.

* Blue Ahote Kachina Spirit: The Blue Ahote kachina also was developed from Plains Indian influences. He wears an eagle headdress like the Plains Indian made of long feathers.

* Humming Bird Kachina Spirit: Also called Tocha Kachina, the Humming Bird Kachina well thought of and favored by the tribes.

* Road Runner Kachina Spirit: Also called the Hospoa Kachina, he guards the people against witchcraft.

* Eototo Kachina Spirit: Eototo kachina is considered the chief kachina of all spirits. Also called the father Kachina, he holds the power of a village chief, only his power comes in the spirit world.

* Aholi Kachina Spirit: Aholi kachina is the Lieutenant of Eototo in the 3rd Mesa. Aholi is a spiritual leader.

**** Crow Bride Kachina Spirit (Angwushahai-I): Crow Bride kachina is also called the Crow Bride on the 3rd Mesa, but on the 1st and 2nd Mesa she is called Crow Mother kachina. As the Crow Mother, she is the mother of all kachinas.

* Ogre Woman Kachina Spirit: Soyok Wuti kachina is a First Mesa Kachina, where she is used to teach tribal rules to children.

* White Bear Kachina Spirit: The Bear kachina can come in many colors, including yellow, black and white. He is very powerful, a strong warrior and can cure sickness.

* Antelope Kachina Spirit: Also called Chop, the Antelope kachina can bring rain to water the crops.

* Kokopelli Kachina Spirit: Kokopelli kachina is a hump-backed lover who plays a flute and tries to lure young Indian Maidens.

* Great Horned Owl Kachina Spirit: Also called Mongwa, he is available at pueblo village dances to knock sense into the kachina clowns.

* Koshari Kachina Spirit: Also called Paiyakyamu, the Koshari Hano clown is a glutton who overeats, and goes over-board on every- thing. He is usually shown eating water mellon.

* Red Beard, Long Hair Kachina Spirit: Also called Angak'china kachina they bring rain and all the beautiful flowers. They are seen everywhere in the Mesas and the Rio Grande.

* Yellow Corn Maiden Kachina Spirit: Also called Takus Mana kachina, she is seen at all the villlage Kachina dances holding corn bowls. The Long Haired Kachinas always appears in the dances with her.

* White Ogre Kachina Spirit: Also called Wiharu, the Ogre accompanies Black Ogre and Soyoko, called Ogre Woman on her trip to get food from children in the village.

* Black Ogre Kachina Spirit: Also called Nata-aska, the Black Ogre kachina carries a bow and arrow and sometimes a knife or saw for hunting. He has flapping jaws which are always clacking.

* White Ogre Kachina Spirit: Also called Wiharu, this Ogre carries a bow and arrow and sometimes a knife or saw for hunting. He has flapping jaws which are always clacking.

* White Wolf Kachina Spirit: Also called Kweo, White Wolf kachina is a powerful hunter who brings food to the village. At the ceremonial dances he is a side dancer who follows the Mountain Sheep and Deer kachina dancers around in the Soyohim ceremonies.

* Eagle Kachina Spirit: Also called the Kwahu,Eagle kachina appears with the Mudhead kachina at March night-time ceremonies.

* Broad-faced Kachina Spirit: Also called Wuyak-ku-ita, Broad-faced kachina is seen in the Bean dance.

* Sun Kachina Spirit: Called Tawa, the Sun kachina is the spirit of the sun god. She is seen at most dancers in the villages of the Pueblo.

* Deer Dancer Kachina Spirit: Called the Sowi-ingwu, he is seen in village Plaza dances with the predatory Wolf Kachina.

* White Bear Kachina Spirit: Called Hon, White Bear is seen in Mixed dances and is said to be powerful enough to cure illness of the people.

* Eagle Dancer Kachina Spirit: Also called Kwa or Kwahu, he can be seen in the Spring together with Mudheads in the night ceremonies. Eagles are believed to be very special in the Hopi tribe and they try to duplicate the graceful wing motion in the March Spring Kiva Dance Kachina dolls are objects made in human or humanlike shape, and they are common in Native American ritual, often referred to in mythology. Perhaps most common are the great variety of Pueblo kachina dolls. Navajos carve ritual kachina dolls for secret use in some healing rites. Native American Iroquois have also taken to carving similar dolls in the False Face image.

Although sold as objects of art, the spectacular kachina dolls retain a valued religious role, particularly in educating children. Hopi Native Americans use kachina dolls to instruct their children in the ways of Hopi tradition and belief. Kachina dolls are important during ceremonies when they are passed out to children." (Various Sources)


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