Kachina

Kachina

kəˈCHēnə

Noun

  • A deified ancestral spirit in the mythology of the Pueblo people.
  • (Also kachina dancer) A person who represents a kachina spirit in ceremonial dances.
  • (Also kachina doll) A small carved figure representing a kachina spirit.

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Example Sentences

“A kachina doll is traditionally carved from a single cottonwood root.”

“Each kachina serves a purpose and represents something different.”

“Kachina dancers usually have elaborate costumes and masks for the ceremonial dances.”

Word Origin

Hopi, late 19th century

Why this word?

A kachina is one of more than 500 ancestral spirits important to the Pueblo people. The kachina can be represented by ceremonial dancers and by small carved dolls, also called kachina (sometimes spelled “katsina”). The word “kachina” comes from the Hopi term “kacina,” meaning “supernatural,” and these spirits represent a vast number of things to the Pueblo people — anything from rain, to crops, stars, animals, and other people. Kachina dancing is quite specialized and the traditions vary among different communities. While kachina dolls are given to children to help them learn about the spirits, they are not usually for playing — in addition to being spiritual tools, they have become sought-after collectibles. 

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