Hopi Kachina Dolls Essays, Book Reports, Term Papers

This essay Hopi Kachina Dolls Essays, Book Reports, Term Papers has a total of 2030 words and 10 pages.

Hopi Kachina Dolls High on the mesas in the arid land of northeastern Arizona live the Hopi, westernmost of the Pueblo people. A small, peaceful and friendly group, they have occupied their barren mesa tops and farmed their arid but fertile valleys for many centuries. Clinging tenaciously to their marginal land, they have withstood drought, famine and the onslaught of nomadic raiders. The pressure of Spanish domination, pestilence and, more recently, cultural inundation have diminished but not destroy their traditional pattern of life. The Hopi are bound together by their religion, a multi-stranded cord uniting them to withstand the hazards of a harsh environment and in rebuffing foreign incursions. Their religion is both their bulwark and the lure that attracts forces that would destroy them (Wright 1). Hopi traditions and lifestyles have not changed significantly over the years. To this day the Hopi Indians are still found where they have been found for many years. The Hopi have withstood great loss and disappointment, but have never lost their faith and union between each other. A major part of the Hopi life is their religious beliefs and ceremonies. Many of the religious ceremonies that the Hopi Indians perform are still performed to the present day. An important part of the Hopi religion is the Kachina. Along with the religious aspect the Kachina has other meaning to the Hopi. The three main aspects of the Hopi Kachina are the supernatural beings, the dancers who impersonate these beings and the wooden dolls. To the Hopi Indians of Arizona the first aspect of the Kachina is the supernatural beings. The Hopi do no necessarily worship the Kachinas so much as they consider them as a supernatural force to be recognized and worked with. The supernatural beings of the Kachina are part of the religious beliefs of the Hopi Indians. ³The Kachina cult has been described as a common denominator in Hopi religion² (Wright 11). This cult is something that nearly every Hopi takes part in. So from that it is shown as to why the Kachinas are a much talked about part of the Hopi life. The San Francisco Peaks of northern Arizona are said to be the home of the supernatural beings of the Kachina. For six months of the year the supernatural beings return to the Hopi villages and take part in the seasonal ceremonies. These ceremonies are said to be able to bring about rain, wind and even sunshine (Wright 12). The Hopi Kachina calendar tells when and what ceremonies take place. The calendar time for how long the ceremonies take place is six months. The Kachina season begins in late December with a ritual opening of the kivas. These kivas are underground ceremonial chambers which are believed to be the entryways to the Spirits of Underworld. There are usually several in each village incorporating most of the men as kiva members. Once the way is opened Kachinas will come and go from the kivas until the path is again closed to them toward the end of July (Fewkes 4). During this time frame the Kachinas will help in doing many different things for the Hopi Indians. Some of the different things that the Kachinas will do during this time is, ³they will renew the world and begin to get it ready for the coming seasons crops² (Wright 13). ³The Kachinas will also insure growth and abundance and, as always, bring moisture. They will bring discipline to some and give direction to all in proper behavior, but their greatest gift will be happiness, good health and a long life² (Colin 9). These are very important tasks that the Hopi Kachinas accomplish during the six months that they are present. The way that the Kachinas are able to accomplish these tasks is in a very unique way. ³Hopi Kachinas embody the spirits of living things and also the spirits of ancestors who have died and become a part of nature. Kachinas are believed to possess powers over nature, especially the weather, but higher gods limit the extent of their powers² (Colton 7). While the kivas are open and the Kachinas are present the Hopi Indian males have a lot of things going one. Since the supernatural beings of the Kachina can not be seen, the Hopi costumed impersonators impersonate the different Kachinas during the ceremonies (Bahti 36). The second aspect of the Hopi Kachina is the impersonators of the Kachina. When the kivas are open and the Kachinas are present the Hopi men dress in costumes and impersonate the different Kachinas. Even the female Kachinas are impersonated by the men of the villages. The female Kachinas look a lot like the male Kachinas, and can only be distinguished by the things they do and the different Kachinas that they accompany. ³Although the Hopi are a matriarchy, the women do not have the same degree of contact with the supernatural that the men possess² (Wright 6). So only the Hopi men take on the responsibility of representing the different Kachinas during the ceremonies. The men who participate in these dances believe that when they are wearing the costume, body paint and mask that they lose their personal identity, and received the spirit of the Kachina they are supposed to represent (Bahti 10). The Hopi Kachina dancers have many different purposes. One of the main reasons for the Kachina dancers, is to bring the clouds. With the clouds comes the rain that is much needed for their crops. Along with clouds and rain, a successful dance will bring other important effects to the Hopi community. Some of those effects being, ³...promotes harmony in the universe and ensures health, long life and happiness for the people.² The Hopi Indians believe ³...that the prayers of the people will be conveyed by the Kachina to the gods² (Bahti 42). ³In a Kachina ceremony, the children are not supposed to recognize their fathers, uncles, or parents¹ friends who are disguised by masks and elaborate costumes² (Colton 6). These spirits that the Hopi men represent can either be a good

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