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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Southwestern Kachinas

Author: J.R. Hall

( Article orginally published August 1957 )

In the southwestern states especially Arizona and New Mexico, the Kachina doll plays a large part in the lives of the Pueblo Indians. The Kachina is commonly thought to be the various spirits who dwell in the San Francisco Mountains near Flagstaff, Ariz. These spirits are used and represented in many ways by the Hopi, Navajos and Zuni tribes, although the Hopi have by far the largest variety. The Hopi have over 200 forms of Kachina spirits. To mention a few there are the Ahola Mana, "Germ God," the Kalektaqa, "Warrior Kachina," and the Hon Kantenia, "Bear God," the Zuni have many such as Pautiva, "Sun God," Sipikne "Warrior God" and Sio Ovate-Hoya, "Corn Kachina."

In the Kachina rituals, when the dancers place the costume on, they lose their personal identity and become the Kachina they represent. During some dances they convey the prayers of the people to the "real" Kachinas who in turn carry them to the Gods. In others, they play the part of our Santa Claus and give toys, food, or (as needed) to the children who are quietly awed by the whole affair. The Kachina dolls are made to be given to the children during the ceremonies, but are never prayed to. The children respect and learn a great deal from these dolls and in turn carry on the rituals through the centuries. Many Kachinas look alike and can be distinguished only by the things they do and Kachinas they are related with in the rituals. There are both male and female Kachinas representing a great many spirits by their painting and symbols on the masks. A very interesting and large collection of these may be seen in the village store at Grand Canyon, and a Kachina Dance is a thing never to be forgotten.

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