In her very grandma-ian way my grandmother sent me a support package when she heard about my ailing health. Yesterday I opened the mailbox to find a shoebox wrapped in brown postal paper. Inside was a whole bunch of tissue paper and plastic bags. Within the mess was a solitary lump wrapped in Christmas paper, and within that paper was a six-inch tall Kachina doll. To be more precise, a Badger Kachina doll. I looked him up, and found out that he’s the healer Kachina, so the gift wasn’t entirely random. My grandmother is the most spiritual atheist I’ve ever known. She goes to church every Sunday. That’s Unitarian church. I find it strange and fascinating.
Anyway, receiving a Kachina in the mail reminded me how cool Kachinas are. As a kid growing up in Southern Arizona I tend to take Native American culture and art for granted, because like, every single white person in the area has at least some bastardized version of that culture decorating their home (Kokopeli has found his way into even Mid-Western homes, minus giant phallus, of course). I took Kachinas for granted so much that it didn’t even dawn on me that someone might not know what they are. For those people I offer the brief wikipedia description:
“Kachinas (also spelled Katsina, the plural “katsinam”) exist in Hopi and in Pueblo cosmology and religious practices. In Hopi, the word Kachina (Katsina or Qatsina) means literally “life bringer”, and can be anything that exists in the natural world or cosmos. A Kachina can be anything from an element, to a quality, to a natural phenomenon, to a concept. There are more than 400 different Kachinas in Hopi and Pueblo cultures.”
Looking back at these guys I’m noticing a very Hayao Miyazaki-eaque flair in the design. The Kachina’s God-like status, and connection to nature would actually make them prime candidates for a Miyazaki film, actually. Though I think I’d rather see them in a super hero mode, kind of like the Super Friends for Hopi children.
Just for fun, here are some of my favorites:
The father of all Kachinas. He’s in charge of seasons and leads the Bean Dance (which is an important ceremony, but sounds absolutely adorable).
Mudhead is one of two kinds of Kachina clowns. The other clown is fucking terrifying (I’ll let all interested parties Google that one for themselves).
The Ogre Woman (Soyok Wuti)
Ogre Woman disciplines the children. I don’t think she’d have to tell me anything twice.
Broad-Face apparently beats on the clowns, who are rightfully afraid of him.
Apparently these guys come out in pairs four nights before the bean dance, and prophesies good crops and toys for the children. Can’t you just hear Peter and the Wolf playing as you imagine them crawling out from behind a tree?