by Gerald Musinsky
Generally kachinas refer to any masked figure or doll. But in the mythic sense and ritual significance they are better conceived as spirits of the dead or departed, deified ancestral spirits. After the end of a good life, they go to the West, where the sun sets, and become kachinas, but there is no clear identity with the deceased and a specific kachina.
There are two categories of kachinas: chief and common. Chief kachinas do not participate in group dancing, common kachinas do.
From Hopi kacina, "supernatural," of Keres origin.