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In the Hopi tradition, the Katsina or Kachina are the spirits of deities, natural elements, animals, or deceased ancestor. Prior to each Kachina ceremony, the men of the village made dolls in the likeness of the Kachinam represented in that particular ceremony. The dolls were then passed on to the daughters of the village by the Giver Kachina during the ceremony. Following the ceremony, the dolls were hung on the walls of the pueblo and were meant to be studied in order to learn the characteristics of that certain Kachina. They were a gift, an educational tool and a constant reminder of the Kachinas. The earliest Kachina dolls were made of one piece of cottonwood root. They were stiff and flat. The creation of more proportional, realistic dolls was a response to the interest of tourists in the dolls. The arms became separated from the body, the heads turned and the dolls were carved into action poses. Commercial and poster paints were used and some dolls were dressed in real clothing. In the 1960s, carvers began to attach bases to the dolls. The dolls became pieces of sculpture. Today many carvers are returning to the more traditional form of Kachina doll instead of the action figure.





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