ka·​chi·​na kə-ˈchē-nə How to pronounce kachina (audio)
variants or less commonly katchina or katcina
: one of the deified ancestral spirits believed among the Hopi and other Pueblo Indians to visit the pueblos at intervals
: one of the elaborately masked kachina impersonators that dance at agricultural ceremonies
: a doll representing a kachina

Illustration of kachina

Illustration of kachina
  • kachina 3

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Kachina and the Pueblo Indians

A kachina is an ancestral spirit of the Pueblo Indians. There are more than 500 of these spirits, and they act as intermediaries between humans and the gods. Each tribe has its own kachinas, which are believed to reside with a tribe for half of each year. They can be seen by the community if men properly perform a ritual while wearing kachina masks. The spirit depicted on the mask is thought to be actually present with the performer, temporarily transforming him. Kachinas are also represented by small wooden dolls, carved and decorated by the men of the tribe.

Examples of kachina in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In addition to his farming work, Koiyaquaptewa is an artist who makes kachina dolls. Ian James, The Arizona Republic, 12 Sep. 2021 The large kachina on the Papago Plaza sign off McDowell Road will be used in a mural, and some of the building’s beams will incorporated into the new construction. Paulina Pineda, azcentral, 5 Dec. 2019 Also kachina dolls, Hopi masks, a Gandhara bust from my own collection. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, 21 Feb. 2020 Traditional and modern pieces including baskets, pottery, jewelry and kachinas are displayed. Roger Naylor, azcentral, 4 Oct. 2019 He was told later that magic dolls — kachinas — had been secreted into the arena. Michael Powell, New York Times, 1 Jan. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'kachina.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Hopi qacína

First Known Use

1888, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of kachina was in 1888

Dictionary Entries Near kachina

Cite this Entry

“Kachina.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kachina. Accessed 15 Apr. 2024.

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