Common Hopi Kachinas and their Meanings

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SHOP for Hopi Kachinas

Central to Hopi religion, Kachinas are supernatural beings believed to live on the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona. Hopi men embody the Kachina spirits during ceremonies that take place between Winter Solstice and mid-July. The Hopis believe these spirits enable them to live in harmony with nature, ensuring rain, crops, fertility, and good hunting. The Hopi men impersonate these kachinas by wearing masks and dancing in the plazas of the villages. The dolls, which are carved replicas of the dancers, are given to the children so that they may learn about their people's traditions. The art of carving kachina dolls has evolved from the old-style blocklike figures into today's highly detailed, all-wood dolls with realistic form and action. Traditional, or Old-Style, Kachina Dolls were simple carvings given to Hopi children to teach them about their culture and the Kachinas that would be visiting during the upcoming ceremony. Over time, Kachina Dolls became more and more sophisticated and included bases for the dolls to stand on and showing the Kachina in “action”- such as dancing or hunting. All Kachina Dolls are carved out of the root of the Cottonwood tree. The Cottonwood tree’s vigorous roots travel far and deep in search of water. There is spiritual importance in this fact, as the Hopis are dry farmers in an arid part of Arizona and the search for water is of critical importance to their culture.

Here are some common Kachinas and a brief summary of their meaning and significance.

  • Bear (Honan) - Courage and strength. Represents great power to cure the sick.
  • Eagle (Kwahu) - Rules the sky. Represents strength and great power.
  • Wolf (Kweo) - Great hunter. Teacher and pathfinder.
  • Ogre - Disciplinarian of the children. Represented as black or white.
  • Owl (Mongwa) - Intelligence and wisdom. Keeps rodents in check.
  • Deer (Sowi-ingwu) - Dances to increase his kind, therefore ensuring abundance.
  • Ram - Dances to increase his kind, and has power over the rain.
  • Snow (Navak'china) - Brings snow and cold weather essential for the growth of crops.
  • Badger (Hon) - Cures the sick. Prayers for the growth of healing herbs are given to him.
  • Lizard (Monongya) - Fighting kachina. Brings sweethearts together.
  • Crow Mother (Angwusnasomtaka) - Guardian of children.
  • Corn Maiden (Kachin Mana) - Purifies women who grind the corn for ceremonies.
  • Hummingbird (Tocha) - Appears as a runner. He is a brilliant impersonator.
  • Morning Singer (Talavai) - Appears on rooftops and sings to waken the village.
  • Buffalo Warrior - Assures there will be adequate food for winter.
  • Wolf Warrior - Assures there will be adequate food for winter.
  • Buffalo - Most powerful kachina. Kills evil thoughts and is a spiritual protector.
  • Hototo - Preparer of food. Most respected war kachina.
  • Antelope - Dances to increase his kind. Brings rain.
  • Shalako (Rain) - Most magnificant. Towers seven feet high. Brings rain.
  • Mudhead - Powerful kachina who acts as a clown and enforcer.
  • Butterfly - Lands on flowers, used by the medicine man.
  • Kokopelli - Hunched back flute player. Brings rain and fertility.
  • Sunface (Dawa) - Warmth and shelter for the elderly, a bright future for the young.
  • Broadface (Whipper) - Carries yucca whips to enforce community cleansing.
  • Left Hand - Reverse kachina, does everything in the opposite.
  • Chasing Star - Represents planets and stars. Returns fallen stars to the sky.
  • Snake Dancer - Sends messages with the snake to ask for rain.
  • Hilili - Guard kachina known for the call he makes.
  • Long Horned - Brings long life.
  • Long Hair - Brings rain. Always singing. Has a long beard that represents rain.
  • Fancy Dancer - Fan passes prayers to the heavens.
  • Traditional Dancer - Entertainer. Passes along prayers.
  • Eototo - Kachina Chief. Controls the seasons. Knows all ceremonies.
  • Aholi - Lieutenant to the Eototo. Accompanies the Eototo to bring rain.
  • Squash - Important as a plant. Signifies food source.
  • Mouse - Hero of Second Mesa. Rid village of a pesky chickenhawk.
  • Clown (Koshari) - Powerful enforcer, entertains crowds.


SHOP for Hopi Kachinas

1 Response

Jeanette Lewis
Jeanette Lewis

January 03, 2019

Thanks for the info on the Kachina’s I have a corn maiden. I knew there were different kinds , but not this many 👏

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