The Navajo Native American Tribe has used Navajo Kachina Dolls for centuries within their religious ceremonies, which derives from the story of creation featuring Father Sun or Mountain Spirit and Mother Earth. The Navajo Kachina Dolls are ceremonial symbols representing these gods and that they still reside with them in spirit.
Navajo Kachina Dolls are hand-carved from soft cottonwood root and decorated with bright colors, leather, furs, feathers, and turquoise; it is believed that a Navajo Kachina Doll must contain natural turquoise to balance its natural spirit. Navajo Kachina Dolls are not worshipped, they are only symbols of influential good and evil beings found only in the spiritual realm.
History of Navajo Kachina Dolls
The history of Navajo Kachina Dolls originated over 500 years ago from the Pueblo Native Americans when the Navajo migrated south from Canada and Alaska to the American Southwest. As they traveled further south, they encountered the Pueblo tribe and began bartering, socializing, and celebrating with them; however, they soon found themselves fighting against each other.
As time passed, relations between the two tribes became closer, which led to many ideas and religious practices that were shared among them. The most important common ground they agreed upon, however, was the Pueblo and Navajo Kachina Dolls; they were to use them in religious ceremonies as symbolic themes representing the spirits residing in the mountains. Navajo Kachina Dolls and Kachina Dancers became ceremonial physical illustrations representing spirits such as animals, plants, trees, ancestors, and even the weather.
Types of and Uses for Navajo Kachina Dolls
There are hundreds of types of Navajo Kachina Dolls, with each one representing a different spirit. Each one is hand-crafted by an artist utilizing various materials, styles, and techniques. During certain times of the year, Navajo Kachina Dolls are given to women and children as gifts to ensure health, bless with abundant harvests, and improve fertility.
Some examples of types of Navajo Kachina Dolls are: the Mountain Spirit, Navajo Chief, Crow Mother, Corn Maiden, Buffalo Warrior, Kneeling Buffalo Warrior, and the Hoop Dancer.
Today’s Popularity of Navajo Kachina Dolls
Navajo Kachina Dolls continue to be produced by master craftsmen who dedicate their lives to creating them even though they are no longer used for religious or educational purposes. Instead, Navajo Kachina Dolls are extremely popular collector’s items that are highly sought after and are mainly produced today for collecting purposes only.