Friday, January 29, 2010

Hopi "Cradle Kachinas"....Delightful Deities!

"Sikya Taka" ~ Is a "Runner" Kachina who appears in the Spring Dances, and runs with the men of the villages. Various reasons are cited for this particular event, some Hopi say it is just for fun, while others say there are religious overtones and most say that the men race so the much needed water will rush down the arroyos.

"Aya" ~ Also called the "Rattle Runner". The "Rattle Runner" races with the "Crazy Rattle Runner" during the Spring Dances. Both of these runners carry yucca whips which they use on any racer who loses. These two runners give several swats to the losers, however they give piki bread to the winner.

"Mak Va Hoi Taka" ~ A "Hunter" Kachina. A Hunter Kachina is the "hunter of game" rather than men. They are not the "Warrior" Kachinas, as Warrior Kachinas are known as the hunters of men....

"Puckoo Mo Taka" ~ A Runner Kachina known as the "Throwing Stick Man". He throws sticks at the person with whom he is racing. The sticks are made of cloth or leather to prevent injury. He has a "throwing stick" or "boomerang" painted on his facemask.

"Tuskipaya" ~ "Tuskipaya" is a Runner Kachina or a Racer. He is also known as the "Crazy Rattle" Kachina and runs with "Aya" in the Spring Races which are believed to bring the necessary rains and water for their crops.

"Ahulani" ~ One of the "Chief" Kachinas whose power is comparable to that of a religious elder in the real world. Chief Kachinas usually appear during the important nine day ceremonies and never in the common plaza dances. "Ahulani" is the first Kachina to return to First Mesa in the December Solstice Ceremony.

"Pachok'china" ~ Also referred to as the "Cocklebur Kachina". This "Plant" Kachina is also a racer who races with cockleburs in his hands, and puts the burrs in the hair of those he catches, as a penalty for losing the race.

"Natook Vooken" ~ Sometimes referred to as the "Navajo Kachina", it is half "Hano Clown" and half Navajo converted to Hopi. Appears in Mixed Dances on the plaza.

"Avachhoya" ~ Also known as "Speckled Corn Kachina". It is the younger brother of the "Hemis" Kachina and is usually impersonated by a young boy. The turkey feathers worn on his head point outwards to the four directions.

"Na-Ngasohu" ~ This Kachina wears an enormous head dress and carries a yucca whip and a bell. The Na-Ngasohu's usually appear in pairs during the Mixed Dances. Some Hopi believe it represents a planet, while others say it is a "Meteor" or the "Chasing Star".....

As you can see from the wear and tear on this book, I have certainly enjoyed it over the years.....

As I mentioned in my post on "Dolls and Toys of Native America"....I became fascinated with Kachinas in my teens....not only the Kachina Dolls, but everything to do with Kachinas....their dances, their significance, how a Hopi person became a member of a certain Kachina Clan...just about every aspect of the mystical Kachina Deities was exciting to learn or experience....the way we began to experience the "Kachinas" was by attending the various dances at the Hopi Mesas....we always attended only those that we were allowed to participate in, and we usually had a Hopi friend with us that would explain the various dances and ceremonies. Wes and I began collecting Kachina dolls the first year we were married. We visited the Mesas as often as we could and would buy directly from the Hopi carvers. Over the years I have purchased some of the dolls in our collection in shops or galleries, where I have come across a Kachina that is just too unusual or nice to pass up. I also sold many Kachinas at the gallery I worked at for 22 years prior to going on the net....The Kachinas were a "favorite" of mine to sell...I loved explaining the different meanings and roles the Kachinas played in their ceremonies to a buyer that was just starting out on the road to collecting. When you truly love what you are selling, it is not hard to get others enthused as well! About ten years ago, while on a buying trip, Wes and I were fortunate to come across some unique "Cradle Kachinas" carved by Hopi carver Ronald Yava. These are the simpler forms of Kachinas, carved traditionally from cottonwood root and given to infants to be hung in their cradles. The Hopi teach their young about the importance of the Kachinas in their culture at a very early age. It becomes a part of their daily lives and teachings. We purchased every "Cradle Kachina" that Ronald had...there were ten of them to be exact. Our plan was to sell them individually on the net when we returned home from the buying trip....but as I mentioned above, I have a genuine fascination for Kachinas, and these Kachinas "talked" to me the whole way back home, and told me that I just simply could not break them up, nor sell them. I listened (I always do ~LOL~) and I kept this outstanding set of Cradle Kachinas. You do not see them often. They are flat on one side to hang against the wall above a cradle or on the sides of the cradle. In early days they were also hung from the brim of a traditional cradleboard. These are all decorated with yarn representing "evergreens" around their necks, or fur and feathers, plus all have beaded "jocla" style necklaces. I knew where I would hang them the minute I returned home. They hang above my office window and the ten fit perfectly in a straight row above the window directly in front of my computer desk...I get to enjoy these carvings every day. Now, for those of you who have not yet been "introduced" into the magical and mystical world of Kachinas, you may not think this is any big deal....but after you attend the dances high atop the mesas and watch the Hopi Men (all but one Kachina are portrayed by men) re-enact the same dances and ceremonies they have been performimg for 100's of years and dressed in their elaborate Kachina will be hooked. Just the mere word "Kachina" conjurs up intriguing images and tales. I hope you enjoy seeing our "Cradle Kachinas"...and if you are interested in learning more about Kachina's, there are numerous books that have been written on them....a favorite of mine is "Hopi Kachinas ~ The Complete Guide to Collecting Kachina Dolls" by Barton Wright.