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History of the Kachina Doll

             The Kachinas are believed to be intermediaries to the gods, which come into the villages to beseech the gods for rain, bountiful crops, and a peaceful life. They also help in many everyday workings within the village. A Kachina has three major aspects; the first being the supernatural being, as he exists in the minds of the Indian. The Kachinas are thought to live in the San Francisco Peaks, near Flagstaff Arizona. They are spirit beings that reside in everything, from the clouds in the sky, to the springs high in the mountains. The second is the masked impersonator of the Kachina, who appears in the kivas and plazas. They come to the villages at various ceremonies in the form of masked impersonators. These impersonators have strict rules to follow; including what the costume looks like, the style of body paint, to their actions. The third aspect is the Kachina dolls and their likeness to the Kachinas. The Kachina dolls, called "tihu" by the Hopi, are carved out of the dried cottonwood tree root. These dolls are merely depictions of the Kachinas and not thought of as idols deserving worship. .
             "In the Hopi religion, everything in the world has two forms, the visible object and the spirit form." (Sunshine) Kachina dolls represent the spirit form reincarnated from the heavens. There are more than 250 acknowledged Kachinas and are the spirit essence of everything in the real world, including Gods and ancestral nature spirits. .
             "The Hopi Kachinas play a major part in the Hopi ceremonial cycle and are regarded as spirit beings." (viewseum) Their religion requires a huge time commitment to those that participate in the ceremonies. The dancers must prepare costumes, the masks, and practice their dances and songs. Their costumes are made up of body paint and clothing of that particular Kachina, a very intricately carved and decorated mask, and usually a turtle shell rattle on one leg to simulate the sound of the ever needed water.

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