The Kachina has no spiritual significance in the Navajo culture; it is a craft learned as a way for some Navajo people to earn a living. Navajo Kachina makers have borrowed from many cultures over the years. It is clear upon examination of these dolls that the Navajo Kachina is not handcarved from cottonwood root as are the Hopi Katsinam. The body parts of the Navajo Kachina are machine made; the dolls are then pegged, glued together and handfinished by the Navajo maker.
Each of these Navajo Kachinas is individually handcrafted and handpainted. No two are alike in feathers or clothing. We will try our best to fill your order with your preferred color, but all characters are not available in all colors at all times.
Though the Hopi Katsina dolls hold tremendous spiritual and cultural significance, the Navajo dolls do not. The Navajo do not hold any major religious or cultural beliefs around the Kachina dolls; however, they bring to their craft a unique eye and an artistic style that is not present in other Native American Kachinas. Though the Navajo Kachina dolls borrow much of their posture and basic symbolism from the Hopi, the Navajo are free to design and decorate their dolls with a rich flourish that would ultimately spoil the spiritual significance of their pieces for Puebloans.
Navajo Kachina dolls have a beauty all their own. The concept and posturing still echoes that of the Hopi Katsinam, though the differences between the two styles are striking. Some of the fancy Navajo Kachinas that we have available here at Kachina House are adorned with feathers and draped with beadwork and come in a variety of colors.
Ultimately the purpose of the Navajo Kachina dolls is a creative source of income for the Navajo people as the dolls are excellent souvenir-quality pieces. They borrow from many cultures to create these sculptures that are priced significantly below the usual Hopi hand-carved Katsina dolls. These dolls can be offered at economical prices for several reasons. First, the wood used for the Navajo Kachina dolls is not from the root of a cottonwood tree. The woods they use are strong and more abundant. Second, most of the parts of the Navajo Kachina dolls are machine worked, then assembled by hand. This allows them to be produced in higher quantities than the individually detailed Hopi Katsinam. Once assembled, the Navajo Kachinas are painted and decorated by hand and then distributed to retailers such as Kachina House for sale to the public. Third, as they are initially machined, they can be produced and finished by many people rather than one.
Do not assume that the more modern methods of creating the Navajo Kachinas makes them any less collectible, however. On the contrary; these dolls, especially the fancier versions that are adorned with bright and festive colored feathers and beads, are beautiful in their own right, and the artistry is still valued, though focused more on the accessories than the Kachina itself.
Many collectors find that the Navajo Kachinas are just as fascinating as the Hopi Katsinam, and the more economical prices encourage people to begin collecting these fine pieces of Native American Indian artwork.