The Hopi Kachina Cult

The Hopi Kachina Cult

The Hopi Kachina Cult, is described, as predating “…European contact, and traces of the religion have been found which date to as early as 1325 A.D. However, it remains an open question among scholars as to whether the kachina religion was an indigenous creation, or an import from Mexico. The similarity of many aspects of Hopi religion to that of the Aztecs to the south strongly suggest the latter to many scholars. For example, the Hopi horned or plumed serpent Awanyu uncannily resembles the Aztec Quetzecoatl, as does the Hopi legend of the Pahana. To the Hopi, kachinas are supernatural beings who represent and have charge over various aspects of the natural world,” according to Wikipedia.

The Hopi Indians, westernmost tribe of Pueblo Indians in northeastern Arizona, believed it a necessity to have supernatural forces on their side to make it through another growing season. This religious reverence for seeking balance with nature and securing posperity resulted in many Kachinas; some relied upon every year, others for specific purposes.  An article at describes Kachinas with many having dances associated with them below:

“In the yearly cycle of religious ceremonies, Kachina dances are preeminent. However, the term ‘dance’ does not have the same meaning as the Western notion of social or interpretive dance. In Hopi dances, the Kachinas are represented by Hopi men, aged ten to eighty.When Kachinas are represented by the men of the villages, they assume visual form and appear in the streets and plazas of the town. It is here that the Kachina is his most magnificent, for the Hopis feel that when they impersonate a Kachina they become the supernatural. As super- naturals they may cure disease, grow corn, bring clouds and rain, watch over ceremonies and reinforce discipline and order in the Hopi world.

Because there are many circumstances that arise requiring supernatural help, there are many Kachinas. Among the Hopi there are about 300 Kachinas that may be current, and at least another 200 that may be known but make only sporadic appearances. It is perfectly consistent that Kachinas may wane and new ones appear as the needs of the Hopis change….Plaza Dances are composed of line dancers, with many performers representing a single Kachina or a mixed group of similar figures. The greater amount of space in the plaza provides room for the long lines of regular dancers and for the more active ‘side dancers.’ These highly skilled ‘side dancers’ encourage the others and emphasize the rhythm of the song and often accom- pany the words of the songs with gestures. Summer dances are always popular and well attended. The final dance of the year is the ‘Home Dance’ or Niman. It signals the departure of all the Kachinas for their mountain homes. After the ‘Home Dance’ no more Kachinas appear until the following year.”

Kachina dolls are part of Hopi cult representing “…spirits of deities, natural elements or animals, or the deceased ancestors of the Hopi.  Prior to each Kachina ceremony, the men of the village will spend days studiously making dolls in the likeness of the Kachinam represented in that particular ceremony. The dolls are then passed on to the daughters of the village by the Giver Kachina during the ceremony.  Following the ceremony, the dolls are hung on the walls of the pueblo and are meant to be studied in order to learn the characteristics of that certain Kachina,” according to Wikipedia. The Kachina dolls served as a reminder of the supernatural deities.

An ancient Hopi Indian prophecy states, “When the Blue Star Kachina
makes its appearance in the heavens, the Fifth World will emerge”. This
will be the Day of Purification. The Hopi name for the star Sirius is
Blue Star Kachina. It will come when the Saquasohuh (Blue Star) Kachina
dances in the plaza and removes his mask,”
  You Tube summary provided for video below.

Leave a Reply