Kachina Types & Ceremonies

Kachina Dancers

From the Annual report of the Bureau of American Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution 1895

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Kachina Types

Individual Kachinas

Ceremony Types


Kachina Types:

Many different styles of kachinas exist to provide different types of examples and guidance for the tribe. Each type has a particular set of characteristics and a distinctive personality. When impersonated, a costume, song style, and set of body movements are both repeated and unique. Most kachinas are considered benevolent friends, although some are clowns and still others punish wayward people.

Chief Kachinas – Those who take part in nine-day ceremonies. Chief kachinas are important, and particular Chiefs are important to certain clans. Their roles mirror that of the elders — they look after the well-being of the clan, and can only be portrayed by specific clan members. Chief kachinas include:

Death Fly/Mastop
Long Billed/Wupamo (also a Guard)
Red Tail Hawk (Palakwayo)
Wupamo (Also a Warrior kachina)

Ogres – The ogres are disciplinary kachinas. Their purpose is to frighten children into good behavior. During ceremonies, they demand food and visit each home in the pueblo or village. Each ogre has his or her own personality and role within a ceremony. The ogre kachinas include:

Giant Ogre (Chaveyo)
Natask (Black Ogre)
Ogre Soyok’mana
Ogre Woman

Warriors or Guards – Serves as policemen and are important for functions before and during war. In the ceremonies, they enforce actions such as communal cleaning, prevent interruptions, protect the kachinas and punishes the unruly clowns. They may carry yucca whips or bows. Warrior kachinas include:

Broadface (Wuyak-kuita)
Crow Man (Angwus)
Hilili (Also a Whipper kanchina)
Warrior Maiden (He-e-e or He-wuhti)
Wupamo (Also a Chief kachina)

Comanche Dance, Alfonso Roybal 1925

Runners – Runners are racing kachinas who run and race with the men of the pueblos during ceremonies. Those who lose the race are whipped with yucca leaves, are forced to eat chile or have mud thrown at them by the Runners, while those who beat them are given piki bread. Runner kachinas include:

Chief (Mongwi)
Chili Pepper (Tsil)
Rattle Runner (Aya)
Red Kilt Runner (Palavitkuna)
Red Tail Hawk Kachina
Road Runner (Hospoa)
Sikya Heheya
Squash (Patung)

Tcukuwympkiya, a Clown Kachina

Tcukuwympkiya, a Clown Kachina

Clowns – Those who offer comic relief during the dances. Clown kachinas include:

Crow Mother
Scorpion (Puchkofmoktaka)
Sun Kachina (Tawa)

General Styles – Animals, plants and other natural forms living and non-living

Female (Momoyam) – Female kachinas are the wives, mothers, and sisters of the other kachina spirits, but they are often still portrayed by men. The exception is Pachavuin Mana. Each usually accompanies another kachina. Female kachinas include:

Butterfly Maiden (Palhik)
Cloud Maiden
Corn Maiden (Corn Mana)
Kachina Maiden (Hoho Mana), a Zuni kachina
Warrior Maiden (He-e-e or He-wuhti)
White Corn maiden (Angak china Mana or Kocha Mana)

Mountain Sheep Kachina Doll

Mountain Sheep Kachina Doll

Animals (Popkot) – Animal kachinas act as advisors, doctors and teachers. They have taught the use and administration of herbs in healing and taught the warriors about avoiding danger. Animal kachinas include:

Antelope (Chop/Sowi-ing)
Deer Dancer (Sowi-ingwa)
Fox Dancer
Great Horned Owl (Mongwu)
Turkey (Koyona)
White Bear (Hon)

Other Kachinas – Other kachina groups can include plants, whippers, hunters and kachinas borrowed from other pueblos.

Individual Kachinas: (This is not a list of all kachinas, but includes many of the more popular and most seen ones.)

Ahol Mana – A maiden spirit, she arrives with Ahola during the Powamu ceremony and with him, she visits various kivas and ceremonial houses. On these visits she carries a tray with various kinds of seeds.

Aholi – The Chief Kachina’s (Eototo) lieutenant, he helps the chief bring moisture to the villages. Aholi Kachina is a beautiful doll that usually appears with a tall blue helmet and a colorful cloak consisting of colors that represents the flowers and the essence of summer and the likeness of Muyingwa, the Germ God. A patron of the Hopi Pikya clan, Aholi once allowed his throat to be slit so that Eototo could escape.

Ahola – Also known as Ahul this Hopi kachina, embodied by a man, is one of the important chief kachinas for the First and Second Mesas because he opens the mid-winter Powamu ceremony, sometimes called the bean planting festival. On the first night of the festival, he performs inside a kiva before going with the Powamu Chief to give prayer feathers to Kachina Spring at dawn. Afterward, he and the Powamu Chief visit all of the kivas and ceremonial houses, giving out bean and corn plants and marking the doorways with stripes of cornmeal. At the end of the ceremony, Ahola descends to a shrine, bows four times to the Sun, and asks for health, happiness, long life, and good crops. Ahola is also the friend of Eototo (Aholi) and one legend tells of Ahola having his throat cut to let Eototo to escape.

Ahulani and Two Soyal Mana Kachinas

Ahulani and Two Soyal Mana Kachinas

Ahulani – This figure participates in the Soyal Ceremony appearing with two Soyal Manas on the morning of the last day of the event. The decoration of the Ahulani mask differs in its symbolism on alternate years, according to whether the Snake or Flute Dance is celebrated. Ahulani carries under his left arm several ears of corn and spruce boughs or twigs. In his left hand he bears a chief’s badge and skin pouch with a sacred meal, while in his right, he carries a staff. In the image at right, Ahulani is escorted by two Soyal Mana kachinas, which differ only in the color of corn which they carry; one has yellow, the other blue corn.

Antelope – Known as Chop or Sowi-ing this kachina dances to increase its numbers and brings rain. There are many similarities between this spirit and the Deer Kachina, but they can be differentiated by the deer’s antlers or the antelope’s horns. When he appears, he is often accompanied by the Mountain Sheep Kachina and the Wolf Kachina.

Apache Dancer – Known as Yoche this spirit is mainly seen during the Kiva Dances. Also called the “Mountain God”, he protects the Apache tribe in wartime and will appear in the coming of age ceremonies for young girls.