kachina-spirit

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Hopi Drawings of Kachinas

1903

Drawings of various Hopi kachinas (or katcinas) created mainly by a 30-year-old Hopi man named Kutcahanauu or White-Bear who was hired in 1903 by the American anthropologist Jesse Walter Fewkes to visually record the hundreds of different kachinas revered by the tribe. Popular in Hopi and Pueblo culture, a kachina is a spirit or personification of a thing in the real world, and 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 these spirit beings varies in each community; there may be kachinas for the sun, stars, thunderstorms, wind, corn, insects, and many other concepts. They 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 his particular power for human good, for example, bringing rainfall, healing, fertility, or protection. 

Dook'o'oosłííd (San Francisco Peaks) Photo taken east of the occupied territory of Flagstaff, Arizona. May, 2014.

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From many places in northern Arizona, the horizon is dramatically marked by three 12,000-foot volcanic peaks that rise out of the Colorado Plateau south of the Grand Canyon and north of Flagstaff. The San Francisco Peaks are sacred to 13 tribes. For the Navajo, the Peaks are the sacred mountain of the west, Doko'oo'sliid, “Shining On Top,” a key boundary marker and a place where medicine men collect herbs for healing ceremonies. To the Hopi, the Peaks are Nuvatukaovi, “The Place of Snow on the Very Top,” home for half of the year to the ancestral kachina spirits who live among the clouds around the summit. When properly honored through song and ceremony, the kachinas bring gentle rains to thirsty corn plants. The peaks are one of the “sacred places where the Earth brushes up against the unseen world,” in the words of Yavapai-Apache Chairman Vincent Randall.

(Text via: True Snow/Photo via: me)