Dancing Kachina Dolls
May 22, 2016
This is but a small portion of the collection of Kachina dolls that we saw while visiting the Richardson Trading Post in Gallup, New Mexico. Kachina's have always drawn me to them and I find them fascinating. I suppose that's somewhat due to my Native American heritage and the doll's history.
According to Ancestor Wisdom: "Kachina dolls were made by the Native American Indians. These dolls originated from the southwest of United States of America. The tribes which used these dolls were Hopi, Zuni and Pueblo. The Hopi community believes that the Kachina dolls live on the peak of San Francisco. Among the types of Kachina dolls, the most important to the Hopi is called Wuya. The Zuni community believes that these dolls live in the Lake of the Dead. This lake is just a myth and is believed to be situated where River Zuni and Little Colorado River meet.
The most fundamental requirement when making Kachina dolls is cottonwood root. The Native Americans chose it because of its density, durability and it is easy to curve. The cottonwood is sawed depending on the length of the doll. Since there were different types of dolls, a carver made the features accordingly. To make the body smooth, the carver used sandstone to rub, to perform the final touch. Some carvers decided to include other parts like headdress. They prepared them aside then attached to the body of the doll. Finally, a layer of kaolin was applied and the paint chosen. Some carvers also included accessories to their dolls, which made them look more appealing. The Native Americans used paint made from organic materials like soot to get black paint, carbonite for green paint or limonite for yellow paint.
Kachina dolls were made for religious purposes. Each doll represented a spirit, which was believed to protect the people. Some of these spirits were the chief, corn girl, ceremony dancer, singer, and the ogre among others. These spirits were believed to bring fortunes like protection from evil, rainfall, plentiful harvest and healing. These dolls were also given to children to teach them about religion. This was mostly given to daughters in the village. A ceremony was held, and a person by the title Giver Kachina handed the dolls to the girls. Apart from religious purposes, Kachina dolls were used in memory of the departed. For example, there is a doll which is carved with cross legs. It represents a Mishongnovi man who lived up to 1880. They were also used to teach children about community rules. Children were threatened with the ogre woman doll, so that they maintain morals. It is crucial to note that these dolls were not idols. They were not considered as gods; therefore, they were not worshipped."
Have a fun day today my friends!
Thank you for your comments and critiques.