Category Archives: Native American Dolls & Kachinas Blog Category

Native American Dolls & Kachinas Blog
Native American dolls & kachinas blog is diverse across North America. Here, you’ll find pieces that have been used by the Native American Indians since prehistoric times up to the present. The earliest dolls excavated and collected from caves are believed to be either children’s toys, hunting charms, fertility charms, or figures used in ceremony.

Most of the Native American dolls kachinas and other doll figures made in historic times were children’s play toys. Doll making was not a profession except in Hopi. It was practiced by the women. Some doll makers went to great details with the toys while others were crudely made. Some were probably made by children themselves. Dolls and toys taught all phases of skills needed by adults. Therefore, plains Indian girls often had small tipis with all the furniture and dolls to play at adult village life. Materials ranged from sticks, river reeds, cornhusk, buckskin, bark, cloth, fur, pottery and stone, wood and beads, etc.

Among the Pueblo Indians of Arizona and New Mexico, all had kachina spirits and dances. But only among the Zuni and Hopi were kachinas carved. These dolls were not prayed to, as a Catholic Saint image would be. They were teaching tools to help the Pueblos identify their kachina spirits. There are over 3000 kachina spirits. At the kachina dances, it is determined by the priests in the Kivas which dances will be performed each season. So a hummingbird kachina dancer may not be seen in the plaza at a dance for 30 years.

Thus, the kachinas help the people to remember and identify what the spirits look like so they will recognize them. At certain times during a childs life cycle, kachinas are given to the Hopi and Zuni children. The kachinas are traditionally carved only by Hopi and Zuni men. They are not play toys. Originally they were made to hang from the Pueblo rooms rafters. But due to their popularity with collectors, the more elaborate sculptural Hopi kachina doll standing on a base developed.

Hopi Polyestewa Hummingbird Kachina Doll Blog

This Is A Large Hopi Polyestewa Hummingbird Kachina Doll Blog By Famed Carver, Polyestewa. It is all painted in natural pigments over a coat of gritty white kaolin clay in a most traditional manner. At his ears are earrings of wrapped corn husk. A marvelous hummingbird figure sits atop his head embellished with yellow, red, and green parrot feathers. His hummingbird beak is wrapped in white wool at its base. He wears a tiny white bead and turquoise nugget jaclaa necklace. A very ornate and well painted fringed sash is tied at his side over a beautiful dance kilt.

From the back of his sash hangs a carved, painted fox skin. He wears the traditional painted ceremonial moccasins. The wooden carving is 12? tall with the feathers rising 2? additionally. He is 6 3/8? across from ear to ear and 6? deep. The bottom of his feet are clearly marked Hummingbird By Polyestewa. This particular doll was a trade with the well known carver in the 1980s for a buckskin ceremonial dress for his granddaughter. The doll is in beautiful condition and has the sweet expression that Polyestewa is famed for. He once explained to me that he intentionally carves his Kachina dolls so as not to be frightening to young children for whom they are traditionally intended.