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The History Kachina Dolls | Palms Trading Company
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The History of Kachina Dolls

Kachina Dolls are perhaps one of the most fascinating and unique subsets of Native American art and collectibles. For the Pueblo Peoples in the south-western part of the United States, the term katsina or ‘kachina’ refers to spirit beings who influence the essentials of life, can bring gifts, and much-needed blessings such as rain.

Read on to learn more about the Kachina dolls created to represent these spirits and some of their unique characteristics.

  • What are Kachina Dolls?

Traditionally, Kachina dolls were given to children not as toys, but as educational tools meant to be treasured and studied in order for young ones to learn about the spirits they represent. Kachina dolls are small, brightly painted representations of masked individuals- the spirits themselves are invisible but the representation is to create a visual symbol. Traditionally, kachinas are made of cottonwood root, a tree species native to the surrounding area’s desert climate.

  • Different Types of Kachina Dolls

There are currently two distinct types of Kachina dolls that are available for collection- older dolls that were made for and used by Native American children, and modern dolls which are created by Pueblo artists for collection and can often be found in crafts markets. Most of the dolls on the market consist of these contemporary creations and these kachina dolls are made by the Hopi and Navajo People. In terms of form, traditional Kachina dolls carved by the Navajo are often seen as more whimsical than those of their Hopi neighbors, so if you’re looking to begin a collection, do your best to explore some of the unique characteristics of Kachina dolls in relation to their tribal origin.

  • Characteristics of Kachina Dolls

Kachina dolls themselves have widely varied characteristics and artistic features dependent on both tribal origins and the artistic flair of a particular artist. Facial features often fluctuate between being represented by intricate painting details or being carved and attached to the face. These facial features are often whimsical and might include things like a triangle mouth, beak, or snout. Kachina dolls are also jam-packed with symbolism related to the adornments and colors of the figures. For example, a pair of vertical lines under the eyes can symbolize a warrior’s footprint, black might symbolize the underworld, and all colors shown together can symbolize heaven or ‘Zenith.’ One of the most exciting activities if you’re beginning your Kachina doll collection is to explore the meaning behind these different elements and learn more about the spirit your doll represents.

Shop Palms Trading Company Today!

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or looking to start your Kachina doll collection, at Palms Trading Company we have some incredible Kachina dolls for you! We carry a wide variety of authentic Kachina dolls, and our personal shopper service would be more than happy to help you explore some of the incredible options we have available. Contact us today and let us help you find the perfect Kachina doll for your collection!