ka·​chi·​na | \ kə-ˈchē-nə How to pronounce kachina (audio) \
variants: or less commonly or katcina

Definition of kachina

1 : one of the deified ancestral spirits believed among the Hopi and other Pueblo Indians to visit the pueblos at intervals
2 : one of the elaborately masked kachina impersonators that dance at agricultural ceremonies
3 : 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

He was told later that magic dolls — kachinas — had been secreted into the arena. Michael Powell, New York Times, "In Navajo Nation, a Basketball Elder Earns Respect," 1 Jan. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'kachina.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of kachina

1888, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for kachina

Hopi qacína

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Dictionary Entries near kachina

Kachemak Bay




K acid



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Time Traveler for kachina

The first known use of kachina was in 1888

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More from Merriam-Webster on kachina

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with kachina

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about kachina

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a period when something is suspended

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