Kachina dolls are not part of the Navajo tribe’s spiritual tradition. However, Navajo kachina dolls reflect the Navajo’s willingness to assimilate ideas and art forms of neighboring Pueblo cultures.
The Navajo tribe is not native to the American Southwest. Their language is related to that of other Athabaskan speakers who are native to western Canada and eastern Alaska. The Navajo oral tradition makes references to a great migration, which historians, scientists and linguists believe led the Navajo people to settle amongst the Pueblo peoples around 1400 CE.
Descending from a migrant culture, the Navajo have historically accepted other Native American Indian cultures’ ideas, ways of life and spiritual beliefs, in many cases assimilating them into their own. Although the kachina religion is unique to the Hopi people, the Navajo have made kachina dolls part of their own artistic tradition.
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Navajo Kachina Dolls
Unlike Hopi kachina dolls, whose every detail is carved from a single cottonwood root, Navajo dolls are created from multiple pieces and/or other woods, including mixed media for ornamentation. The body of Navajo kachina dolls is made of one or more pieces carved wood (which may be affixed with glue), but their dress or accessories may include leather strips and real feathers (usually turkey or pheasant).
Because kachina dolls have no religious significance for the Navajo people, artists are free to reimagine kachina figures. While many of the Navajo dolls look like those from Hopi kachina stories, Navajo kachina dolls are also frequently whimsical characters or significant variations from traditional kachina images.
Authentic Navajo Kachina Dolls at Palms Trading Company
Palms Trading Company carries Native American Indian kachina dolls from both the Hopi and Navajo artistic traditions. Our online collection of kachina dolls are guaranteed authentic—handmade by a Navajo or Hopi artist.