Yohanna's of
Designing everyday life

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Meet the Kachina dolls

Put on Dylan playing his tribute to folk music, pour red wine in a nice glass, get comfortable and come travel with me in the place where the ground is red and dry, the sky is bright blue and the wind whispers strange words in your ear..... in the world of Western Pueblo tribes!

Puebloan people are native Americans who live in the states of Arizona and New Mexico. At the time of Spanish encounter they were living in complex, multi-story villages often built around a central courtyard. The Spanish called these pueblos, meaning "towns," and applied the name to all the people living in such constructions.

 One of the tribes, the ones called Hopi, create the beautiful handmade dolls I was talking about here. The Kachina dolls. The Kachina is a spirit in Hopi religious beliefs. There are three kinds of Kachina : the supernatural being, the dancers  (who are masked and  represent spirits at the religious ceremonies ) and the dolls. Hopi means the one who is gentle and kind. The Kachina beliefs' core is consisted of the faith that there is life in every object in the universe. All things have soul and people should tone in with that or they fail to survive....

So in order to initiate young girls in their religion, they give them little Kachina dolls. Kids are not suppose to play with them but to treasure and study them, as part of their training. They receive the dolls twice a year, until they become ten years old. These wooden dolls are used to teach the identities of the kachinas and the symbolism of their regalia. The identity of the spirit is depicted not by the form of the doll’s body, which is usually simple and flat, but primarily by the applied colour and elaborate feather, leather, and, occasionally, fabric ornamentation of its mask. They are made of poplar wood mainly, whitened with kaolin.
Here you can see a collection of firstly appeared Kachina dolls:


Of course this primitive style didn't last long!! Sooner than you think, those folk artists started to use different materials. As for the colours used, they were increased in number and brightness..

They even represented scenes from their everyday lives, such as hunting and weaving:


I was impressed not only by the craftsmanship and the creativity  those little creatures were made of but also by what they represent. They were made out of kindness to teach young girls to respect all things around them, to live their lives in harmony and peace with their surroundings, to bring them well being and prosperity! No wonder why they are still a source of inspiration for creative people...

Made me think...what if the key to living a life that matters is to respect and give? To design,  create and share, to bring joy...Isn't that one of the reasons why ancient people started creating things anyway? Just think about it....

I' leaving you to finish that glass of red wine and think about it, too....

Have a nice evening!




  1. beautiful informatation sweetie!1I really love those handmade dolls!!

  2. Such a lovely and informative post!
    I love what these dolls represent! And you can't help but admire this craftsmanship!



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