ECO S Eugene

Economic S Eugene

Pueblo Indian Dolls

Kachina Dolls

The Parade of the Kachinas, a brilliant-colored procession of forty-seven Pueblo Indian dolls, part of a collection recently given to the Museum by Watts L. Richmond, member of the Board of Managers of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, is now shown in the Central Hall.

Among the Pueblo Indians, especially the Hopi of Arizona and the Zuni of New Mexico, a [[Kachina]] symbolizes one the several hundred supernatural beings who personify their ancestral spirits and to whom they offer prayers in their various religious dances and ceremonies. Such dances occur seven times a year. The Indian men, wearing other-worldly carved and elaborately decorated masks, impersonate the deities in so frenzied a manner that they completely lose their individuality and become only a part of a moving ceremony.

Kachina Doll imageThe seven major religious fetes which occur annually have many common features. The aim of all of them is to produce rain, and with it fertility and growth, for agriculture is the foundation of their livelihood, as with other primitive peoples. Each of these rites is conducted by one or more of the chiefs whose positions are hereditary. The sunrise on each of the ceremonial days is heralded by a public announcement, and the ceremonies are comprised of eight days of secret rites followed on the ninth day by a public dance.

In the periods between these rites the wooden effigies, representing the masked dancers, are carved by the men in the kivas, or ceremonial chambers. The dolls, archaic in style, and six to twelve inches high, are usually made of a soft wood, such as cottonwood, and are then covered with a clay-like paint, which resembles our whitewash. The black paint is made of charcoal and the other bright colors from colored clay and sandstone. The dolls are repainted for each ceremony and thus are made to represent different spirits. Grasses and feathers, preferably of the eagle, form a part of their decoration with the hope that the prayers may be received by the Upper World.

At the time of the celebration of the Farewell of the Kachinas in July or August, the dolls are presented to the children, who play with them or hang them on the wall to remind them of the religious personages whom they represent and to add to the decoration of the room.

In giving the children this opportunity to study the elaborate paintings on the dolls, the Pueblos provide an effective method of teaching the intricate religious symbolism which has been handed down from one generation to the next since 1700.

The native American Indians said that the Gods came down from the skies and taught them many things. They called them Kachina.