Hopi children learn the legends of the “Kachinas” early
The Hopi Indians in the US state of Arizona believe in “Kachinas”. That’s what they call ghosts with enormous strength. To help people, they have to be kept in a good mood. Otherwise they could do a lot of damage.
As of February 13, 2020 | Reading time: 3 minutes
NAfter the belief of the Hopi Indians from northeastern Arizona, our world will soon be over. Whenever people behave really badly, their world disappears and a new one emerges. At the moment we live in the fourth world, the Hopi say, so people have already messed it up three times.
Fortunately, there is the everlasting, invisible world of spirits that can help people and whose personifications the Hopi call “Kachina”, “Father of Life”. The central theme of the Kachina cult is the presence of life in all things and states of this universe.
The kachinas represent everything that exists in the real world: the relative that has just died, the wind, the stars or an ant. The Kachinas cultivate kinship relationships with each other, just like the gods of Greek mythology, but not as brutally.
Hopi Indians must keep the kachinas happy
As representatives of earthly topics, they have enormous power. Therefore, they have to be kept in a good mood, otherwise they can do a lot of damage. Then it doesn’t rain or it rains too much, or it’s too cold or too warm. In any case, the weather is not as it would be for the harvest. If people don’t manage to cope with these forces, they won’t survive, the Hopi believe.
In winter, the Kachinas come to earth with important messages from the spirits. In spring, when sowing is finished, they disappear again. During the planting season, the leaders among men traditionally dress like kachinas and perform ritual dances.
In this way you connect with the spirits and get the important information. At the end of the ceremonies, they distribute Kachina dolls to the children. It is important for the Hopi that the youngsters learn early on how to deal with the ghosts. The small wooden kachina dolls serve this purpose. They are hung on the walls at home and passed on from generation to generation.
There are about 400 different dolls, because each tribe has its own kachinas. Other tribes such as the Pueblo, Navajo and Keresan also believe in such spirits.
In Arizona, the dolls are also available for tourists
Traditionally, the dolls are made from the roots of poplar-like trees, the cottonwoods. They are usually between 3 and 45 centimeters tall, carved and painted. Some are decorated with feathers, wear jewelry and leather shoes, others are only made of wood.
The doll shown here is the mudhead, the mud head and clown:
He is one of the better known kachinas and occurs in almost every ceremony. He is a moderator and plays games with the audience.
The mudhead owes its name to the mud on its mask, because it comes through a hole from the underworld, the Sipapú. For the Hopi, Sipapú is the place of awakening, on the journey into the interior of our existence.
Today the Hopis also make Kachina dolls for tourists. It is best to buy them directly at the Hopi Reserve visitor center or in the shops around them. Otherwise, museum shops and special shops such as the Kachina House in Sedona are recommended.
Small tourist dolls are available for a few dollars. Original kachinas, on the other hand, are very valuable and are rarely offered for sale. Since they are very popular with collectors, there is a large counterfeit market. One of the oldest collected Kachina dolls dates from 1857.
The Hopi say that Kachina dolls can be given away to people who can take good care of the spirits. You will surely think of someone.
This text is from the WELT AM SONNTAG. We would be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.