Kachina

kachina

A kachina [kuh-chee-nuh] is a spirit being in the cosmology and religious practices of the Pueblo people of the southwestern U.S.. The term also refers to the kachina dancers, masked members of the tribe who dress up as kachinas for religious ceremonies, and kachina dolls, wooden dolls representing kachinas which are given as gifts to children.

A kachina can represent anything in the natural world or cosmos, from a revered ancestor to an element, a location, a quality, a natural phenomenon, or a concept.

The local pantheon of kachinas varies in each pueblo community; there may be kachinas for the sun, stars, thunderstorms, wind, corn, insects, and many other concepts. Kachinas are understood as having humanlike relationships; they may have uncles, sisters, and grandmothers, and may marry and have children. Although not worshipped, each is viewed as a powerful being who, if given veneration and respect, can use their particular power for human good, bringing rainfall, healing, fertility, or protection, for example.

The central theme of the kachina cult is the presence of life in all objects that fill the universe. Everything has an essence or a life force, and humans must interact with these or fail to survive.

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