Kachinas (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: The kachina cult, concerned with the growth of crops and the fertility of all life, is found among all the Puebloans in the Southwest
The term “kachina” has three distinct meanings: a spirit being, a dancer wearing a mask who impersonates one of the spirits in ceremonial dances, and a wooden figurine or doll made to resemble one of the spirits. These kachina dolls, the best examples of woodcarving found among the Puebloans, are made primarily by the Hopi and to a lesser extent by the Zuñi, although belief in the kachina spirits is common to all the groups.
Kachinas are spirits of the dead who act as intermediaries between humankind and the gods and who bring the clouds and the rain. Some Puebloans, the Hopi among them, believe that the kachinas live on mountaintops, while others, such as the Zuñi, believe that they live under the lakes. The Hopi kachinas leave their mountain home to live in the villages for six months each year, arriving in late February for an initiation ceremony called the Powamu and returning after the Niman Ceremony, or Home Dance, in July. While they are in the villages, the kachinas are represented in various dances and ceremonies by men wearing masks. There are two major categories of masks: those representing the greater, or most sacred, spirits, which are simple and unchanging, and those representing the lesser spirits, which have more spectacular, and changeable, features such...
(The entire section is 547 words.)
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Kachinas (Myths and Legends of the World)
Spirits known as kachinas are central to the religion and mythology of the Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest, in particular the Hopi who live in Arizona. These groups believe that kachinas are divine spirits present in features of the natural world such as clouds, winds, thunder, and rain. They are also ancestral spirits that help connect humans with the spirit world.
Each Pueblo tribe and village has its own distinct kachinas. There may be more than 500 in total, and all are equally important. The Pueblos revere the kachinas and look to them for help, especially in bringing rain to water corn and other crops.
The kachinas dwell in sacred mountains and other sacred places. However, they spend half of each year living near Pueblo villages. During this time, the men of kachina perform traditional ritualsceremony that follows a set pattern linked with the presence of the spirits. They wear costumes and elaborate masks and perform songs and dances associated with specific kachinas. The Pueblos say that during these rituals each dancer is temporarily transformed into the spirit being represented.
Kachinas are also portrayed in elaborately carved wooden dolls adorned with the costumes and masks that identify them. The Hopi and other Pueblo peoples
(The entire section is 257 words.)