A spirit being in western Puebloan religious beliefs, Kachinas are a central theme within a number of cultures including the Hopi
and the Tewa
Village on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona
; and the Zuni
and Laguna Pueblos
in New Mexico
. Also called katchina, katcina, or katsina, these spirits, or personifications of things in the natural world, may represent anything from rain to crops, to various animals, stars, beloved ancestors, and even other Indian tribes. The word kachina derives from Hopi term kachi, which means "spirit father, life, or spirit."
There are more than 400 different kachinas in Hopi and Pueblo
culture which vary from one pueblo community to another. Kachinas are expressed in three different ways -- the spiritual or supernatural deities; the masked dancers who represent kachinas at religious ceremonies; and kachina dolls or carvings.