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Kachina Dolls: A Brief History & Overview | Palms Trading Company
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Kachina Dolls: A Brief History & Overview

Note: Website items are NOT available for in-store viewing, in-store purchase, or layaway. Website items MUST be purchased online, for inventory control purposes. In-store pick up option is available at check out.

Like many cultures around the world, there are certain emblems and items that truly represent a deep spiritual connection and illustrate the beliefs of a people. For the Hopi, it’s Kachina dolls. For centuries, the Hopi people have called the Southwest, Arizona in particular, their home. At Palms Trading Company, Hopi Katchina dolls are some of our most asked about items, and here we wanted to share some of the history and insight into how they’re made and what they’re used for, so read on!

The Origin of Kachina Dolls

For hundreds of years, the traditional Hopi method of Kachina (Katsina) doll making has remained unchanged. The term “Katsina” actually means “spiritual beings” in the Hopi language, thus Kachina dolls are deeply spiritual works of art. First encountered by traders in the mid-1800s, Kachina dolls have been traded on and off ever since. However, in Hopi culture, they’re traditionally given children to teach them about upcoming ceremonies.

How are Hopi Kachina Dolls Made?

The carving of the doll’s body is traditionally simplistic in style, with most of the details on the masks that each doll has. Kachina dolls are created from cottonwood root by Hopi artisans.

Details are painted with vegetable-based, natural dyes. NAVAJO dolls feature accessories and additions. Hopi dolls only ever are made of cottonwood root. Clay is never an aspect of any kachina carving.

Kachina Doll Meanings

Although all Kachina dolls are made to represent spiritual beings, different ones will represent different types. For example, guardian or disciplinarian dolls will often be equipped with spears or yucca whips. Additionally, different dolls will be carved for different purposes. Frog dolls and other amphibious animals will be made to bring rain, while bears often are used to help heal the sick. To date, there are more than 400 different Katsinam or Kachima dolls documented.

Contact Palms Trading Company to order your Kachina doll today!

For those who want to begin their very own Kachina doll collection, get started by ordering one online from Palms Trading Company today or calling 1 (800) 748-1656.