The Kachina or Katsina dolls (in the local designation) are wooden figures created by the Hopi people, a Native American community that inhabits northeastern Arizona. But Kachina are also supernatural beings, and the dolls are precisely their incorporation. The dolls are offered to the girls and brides and serve to teach them about the different existing Kachinas. As we read on the website for the Hopi Cultural Preservation “Katsina refers primarily to the supernatural beings who are believed to visit the Hopi villagers during half the year. Katsinas have the power to bring rain, exercise control over the climate, assist in many of the villagers’ daily activities, punish offenders of ceremonial or social laws, and generally function as messengers between the spiritual domain and the domain of humans , constituting spiritual messengers.
Although dolls are offered to female children, they were not made (or were not primarily) to play; they are objects to be preserved and passed from generation to generation. During the twentieth century, Kachina dolls began to be highly prized by collectors, entering a global circuit that went beyond their circulation in the communities. The Brooklyn Museum features an interesting collection of Kachina dolls, reproduced in the photographs below.
Photo credits: All photos at Brooklyn Museum website. By order of appearance: