Religion Wiki

Drawings of kachina dolls, from an 1894 anthropology book.

Kachina dancers, Shongopavi pueblo, Arizona, sometime before 1900

Kachina dolls in the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

A metal statue signifying a kachina dancer at the Carefree Resort in Carefree, Arizona, US.

A kachina (play /kəˈnə/; also katchina or katcina; Hopi: katsina /kətˈsiːnə/, plural katsinim /kətˈsiːnɨm/) is a spirit being in western Pueblo cosmology and religious practices.[1] The western Pueblo, Native American cultures located in the southwestern United States, include Hopi, Zuni, Tewa Village (on the Hopi Reservation), Acoma Pueblo, and Laguna Pueblo. The kachina religion has spread to more eastern Pueblos, e.g. from Laguna to Isleta. The term also refers to the kachina dancers, masked members of the tribe who dress up as kachinas for religious ceremonies, and kachina dolls, wooden figures representing kachinas which are given as gifts to children.

Kachinas are spirits or personifications of things in the real world. A kachina can represent anything in the natural world or cosmos, from a revered ancestor to an element, a location, a quality, a natural phenomenon, or a concept. There are more than 400 different kachinas in Hopi and Pueblo culture. The local pantheon of kachinas varies in each pueblo community; there may be kachinas for the sun, stars, thunderstorms, wind, corn, insects, and many other concepts. Kachinas are understood as having humanlike relationships; they may have uncles, sisters, and grandmothers, and may marry and have children. Although not worshipped,[2] each is viewed as a powerful being who, if given veneration and respect, can use their particular power for human good, bringing rainfall, healing, fertility, or protection, for example. One observer has written:[3]

"The central theme of the kachina cult is the presence of life in all objects that fill the universe. Everything has an essence or a life force, and humans must interact with these or fail to survive."


Kachina was the most widespread and practiced religion by the Pueblo two hundred years or so before the Spaniards came to the West.

Zuni kachinas

The Zuni believe that the kachinas live in the Lake of the Dead, a mythical lake which is reached through Listening Spring Lake. This is located at the junction of the Zuni River and the Little Colorado River.

Hopi kachinas

Within Hopi religion, the kachinas are said to live on the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona. The most important Hopi kachinas are called wuya.

Among the Hopi, kachina dolls are traditionally carved by the uncles and given to uninitiated girls at the Bean Dance (Spring Bean Planting Ceremony) and Home Dance Ceremony in the summer. The function of the dolls is to acquaint children with some of the many kachinas.

In Hopi the word is often used to represent the spiritual beings themselves (said to be connected with the Fifth World, Taalawsohu), the dolls, or the people who dress as kachinas for ceremonial dances, which are understood to all embody aspects of the same belief system. Among other uses, the kachinas represent historical events and things in nature, and are used to educate children in the ways of life.


The most important of the kachinas are known as wuya. These are some of the wuyas:

  • Ahöla
  • Ahöl Mana
  • Aholi
  • Ahul
  • Ahulani
  • Akush
  • Alosaka
  • Angak
  • Angwushahai-i
  • Angwusnasomtaka
  • Chaveyo
  • Chakwaina
  • Chiwap
  • Chowilawu
  • Cimon Mana
  • Danik?china
  • Dawa (kachina)
  • Eototo
  • Hahai-i Wuhti
  • He-e-e
  • Huruing Wuhti
  • Kalavi
  • Kaletaka
  • Ketowa Bisena
  • Köchaf
  • Kököle
  • Kokopelli
  • Kokosori
  • Kokyang Wuhti
  • Kwasai Taka
  • Lemowa
  • Masau'u
  • Mastop
  • Maswik
  • Mong
  • Muyingwa
  • Nakiachop
  • Nataska
  • Ongchomo
  • Pachava Hú
  • Patung
  • Pohaha or Pahana
  • Saviki
  • Pöqangwhoya
  • Shalako Taka
  • Shalako Mana
  • Söhönasomtaka
  • Soyal
  • Tiwenu
  • Toho
  • Tokoch
  • Tsitot
  • Tukwinong
  • Tukwinong Mana
  • Tumas
  • Tumuala
  • Tungwup
  • Ursisimu
  • We-u-u
  • Wiharu
  • Wukokala
  • Wupa-ala
  • Wupamo
  • Wuyak-kuita

See also

  • Awelo
  • Heard Museum
  • Hopi Kachina dolls


  1. Walter, Mariko N.; Eva Jane Neumann Fridman (2004). Shamanism: An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices and Culture. ABC-CLIO. pp. 347–348. ISBN 1-57607-645-8. 
  2. Wright, Barton; Evelyn Roat (1965). This is a Hopi Kachina. USA: Museum of Northern Arizona. pp. 4. 
  3. Barton, Wright (2008). "Hopi Kachinas: A Life Force". Hopi Nation: Essays on Indigenous Art, Culture, History, and Law. USA: Univ. of Nebraska Digital Commons. pp. Ch. 4. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 


  • Anderson, Frank G. (1955). The Pueblo Kachina Cult: A Historical Reconstruction. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, 11, 404-419.
  • Anderson, Frank G. (1956). Early documentary material on the Pueblo kachina cult. Anthropological Quarterly, 29, 31-44.
  • Anderson, Frank G. (1960). Inter-tribal relations in the Pueblo kachina cult. In Fifth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, selected papers (pp. 377–383).
  • Dockstader, Frederick J. The Kachina & The White Man: A Study of The Influence of White Culture on The Hopi Kachina Cult, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan: Cranbook Institute of Science, 1954.
  • Dozier, Edward P. (1970). The Pueblo Indians of North America. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
  • Glenn, Edna "Kachinas," in Hopi Nation: Essays on Indigenous Art, Culture, History, and Law, 2008.
  • Kennard, Edward A. & Edwin Earle. "Hopi Kachinas." New York: Museum of The American Indian, Hye Foundation, 1971.
  • Schaafsma, Polly. (1972). Rock Art in New Mexico. Santa Fe: State Planning Office..
  • Schaafsma, Polly (Ed.). (1994). Kachinas in the pueblo world. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.
  • Schaafsma, Polly; & Schaafsma, Curtis F. (1974). Evidence for the origins of the Pueblo katchina cult as suggested by Southwestern rock art. American Antiquity, 39 (4), 535-545.
  • Schlegel, Alice, "Hopi Social Structure as Related to Tihu Symbolism," in Hopi Nation: Essays on Indigenous Art, Culture, History, and Law, 2008.
  • Sekaquaptewa, Helen. "Me & Mine: The Life Story of Helen Sekaquaptewa." Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press, 1969.
  • Stephen, Alexander M. "Hopi Journal." New York: Columbia University Press, 1936.
  • Stewart, Tyrone. Dockstader, Frederick. Wright, Barton. "The Year of The Hopi: Paintings & Photographs by Joseph Mora, 1904-06." New York, Rizzoli International Publications, 1979.
  • Talayesua, Don C. "Sun Chief: The Autobiography of a Hopi Indian." New Haven, Connecticut: Institute of Human Relations/Yale University Press, 1942.
  • Titiev, Mischa. "Old Oraibi: A Study of The Hopi Indians of the Third Mesa." Cambridge, Massachusetts: Peabody Museum, 1944.
  • Waters, Frank. "Masked Gods: Navajo & Pueblo Ceremonialism." Denver, Colorado: Sage Books, 1950.
  • Waters, Frank. "The Book of The Hopi." New York, Viking Press, 1963.
  • Wright, Barton. "Hopi Kachinas: The Complete Guide to Collecting Kachina Dolls." Flagstaff, Arizona: Northland Press, 1977.
  • Wright, Barton, "Hopi Kachinas: A Life Force," in Hopi Nation: Essays on Indigenous Art, Culture, History, and Law, 2008.

External links