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kachina

kachina (kəchē´nə), spirit of the invisible life forces of the Pueblo of North America. The kachinas, or kachinam, are impersonated by elaborately costumed masked male members of the tribes who visit Pueblo villages the first half of the year. In a variety of ceremonies, they dance, sing, bring gifts to the children, and sometimes administer public scoldings. Although not worshiped, kachinas are greatly revered, and one of their main purposes is to bring rain for the spring crops. The term kachina also applies to cottonwood dolls made by the Hopi and Zuni that are exquisitely carved and dressed like the dancers. Originally intended to instruct the children about the hundreds of kachina spirits, the finer carvings have become collector's items. The name is also spelled katchina.

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Kachinas

Kachinas

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 cults perform traditional rituals 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 use these dolls to teach their children about the hundreds of different kachinas.

See also Corn; Kokopelli; Native American Mythology.

cult group bound together by devotion to a particular person, belief, or god

ritual ceremony that follows a set pattern

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kachina

kachinaabstainer, arcana, campaigner, Cana, caner, cantilena, complainer, container, detainer, drainer, entertainer, explainer, Gaenor, gainer, Gaynor, grainer, Jena, Lena, maintainer, Marlene, N'Djamena, obtainer, ordainer, planar, planer, profaner, Rayner, retainer, scena, seiner, Sinn Feiner, strainer, sustainer, trainer, uniplanar •straightener •Adelina, Angelina, arena, Argentina, ballerina, Ballymena, Bettina, Bukovina, Burkina, cantina, Cartagena, casuarina, catena, Christina, cleaner, concertina, congener, contravener, convener, Cortina, demeanour (US demeanor), deus ex machina, duodena, Edwina, Ena, farina, Filipina, galena, Georgina, Gina, gleaner, hyena, Ina, intervener, kachina, kina, Magdalena, marina, Martina, Medina, Messalina, Messina, misdemeanour (US misdemeanor), Nina, novena, ocarina, Palestrina, Pasadena, Philomena, piscina, retsina, Rowena, Sabrina, scarlatina, screener, Selina, semolina, Seraphina, Serena, Sheena, signorina, sonatina, subpoena, Taormina, tsarina, verbena, vina, weaner, wiener, Wilhelmina, Zena •sweetener • pipecleaner

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