Kachina are masked spirits beings respected and honored in many Native American tribes. In the Hopi language, the word Kachina translates to "life bringer," and can be a representation of anyone or anything, including ancestors, locations, elements, or even ideas. Kachina are not worshipped, but they are considered powerful beings who, if properly respected and valued, will bring good fortune, health, and prosperity to the land.
Most Kachina dolls were first made in the mid to late 19th Century, and are traditionally made of cottonwood. They are used to study and learn about the local Kachina spirits, and are often carved directly before ritual dances to honor a particular Kachina. After the dances are finished, the dolls are placed around the house to ensure the family continues to respect and honor the Kachina. These dolls are neither considered idols to be worshiped nor toys for the very young, but are almost exclusively used for study and decoration. They may also be sold as souvenirs for profit.