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Chiro Kachinim or Bird Kachinas


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Chiro Kachinim Bird Kachinas

turposkwa-canyon-wrenThe primary purpose of Chiro Kachinim or Bird kachinas (as with all other kachinas) is to bring water to the villages. It is believed that long ago, strong birds of prey taught the Hopi people and provided advice and guidance to help them emerge from the Underworld.

Chiro Kachinim or Bird Kachina impersonators take great care in duplicating the motions and actions of the birds they represent. Owl kachinas serve as warriors and like the Crow kachina, serve to control the clown kachinas. Some bird kachinas are racers who challenge the men and boys in the villages to races.

Birds are very important in Hopi culture, especially water birds such as ducks, cranes, herons and snipes. As with many other cultures, Hopi's use bird feathers to decorate costumes, masks, alters and people for celebrations and ceremonies.

Chiro Kachinim or Bird Kachina Masks

Kachina types may cross match into one or more group since many kachinas are multi-faceted with numerous responsbilities and roles.

Birds, especially eagles, have important roles in Hopi traditional ceremonies and villagers give them gifts and treat them as special guests. The eagles' dance is primarily a prayer for future populations of eagles.

The downside for these eagles, however, is at the end of the celebrations, they are all ceremoniously smothered and cleanly plucked.

  • Kwahu Eagle

    The Kwahu Eagle dancers appear with Mudhead kachinas in the night Kiva Dances during the Powamu Ceremony. Each dancer takes on the persona of an actual eagle in motion, mimicking flight and eagle crys to perform this important ritual.

  • Kisa Prairie Falcon

    Runner kachinas carry yucca whips and challenge men and boys to foot races. If the people win they receive Piki bread or gifts and prizes, but if they lose they are struck with the yucca whips.

  • Angwusnasomtaka Crow-Mother Tumas

    The Angwusnasomtaka, Tumas, Crow Mother or Man with Crow Wings Tied To, is the mother of the Hu or Whipper kachinas. This kachina also belongs in the Chief or Mongwi Kachinum category. Many Hopis believe she is the mother of all Kachinas. She appears on all three mesas during the Powamu or Bean Dance. On the third mesa she is called Angwushahai-i, or Crow Bride where she dresses entirely in white. She also talks and sings on the third mesa.

    Her responsibility is to give protection and guidance to children while they are at play and during ritual initiations. During initiation, she brings a bunch of Narrowleaf Yucca plant blades, (thin yucca plant leaves) in to the kiva and hands the yucca blades to the Hu Kachinas who strike the children several times with the leaves.

    Yucca plants are very important to the Native Americans of Northern Arizona and Utah. They use virtually all of the Yucca plant in various ways including using the narrowleaf yucca's sword-like leaves to make baskets and sandals.

  • Palakwai Red-tailed Hawk

    The Palakwayi (Palkwayo) Red-Tailed Hawk is a Chief Kachina, a warrior and a hunter who makes his appearances in the Pachavu ceremony on second and Third Mesas.

    This kachina's most distinctive attribute is a bird's nest resting upon his head.

  • Patszro Snipe

  • Turposkwa Canyon Wren

    Turposkwa Canyon Wren kachina most distinctive markings appear to be a small bird resting atop the case mask and an inverted "V" over the beak.

    The primary purpose of Chiro Kachinim or Bird kachinas (as with all other kachinas) is to bring water to the villages. It is believed that long ago, strong birds of prey taught the Hopi people and provided advice and guidance to help them emerge from the Underworld.

    Chiro Kachinim or Bird Kachina impersonators take great care in duplicating the motions and actions of the birds they represent.

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