I discovered Kokopelli at the Grand Canyon.
After the first day's exploration, I wandered
into one of many gift shops on the South Rim.
On one of the displays, I saw a happy dancing
figure made of metal, in vivid colors, with a stone
base. I wasn't sure what it was, but I knew I
had to buy it.
From then on, I was hooked. I started buying
Kokopelli everything – switchplates, a sand art
clock, pictures, salt and pepper shakers, stuffed
toy Kokopellis, Kokopelli jewelry... I furnished a
whole room in our house with this stuff. I
bought countless items at the Grand Canyon and
continued my obsession via Ebay. My Ebay ID
did, and still does, contain the word Kokopelli.
Over the years since I first fell in love with him,
he has further permeated gift shops around the
country – not just the Southwest. So, here's the
story of the origin of Kokopelli and the different
viewpoints as to what he/she/it was.
The Legend of Kokopelli
There are many theories about who Kokopelli
was. Some believe he did not exist, some think
of him as a deity, and others believe that he was
a real person who walked the earth. The name
Kokopelli is thought to be of Zuni/Hopi origin and
may be translated as “kachina hump”. The Hopi
“kachina” is associated with fertility and rain,
has a hump and a long snout, and was originally
thought of as phallic. Kachinas are supernatural
beings who serve as intermediaries between the
gods and man to bring rain, fertility, and good
Pictographs and Petroglyphs
Kokopelli was found on pictographs (paintings
on stone) and petroglyphs (etchings in stone) in
Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico as far
back as 200 A.D. The drawings and carvings
were primarily done by the Anasazi, Mogollon,
Sinagua, and Hohokam peoples. Today,
Kokopelli still appears in Hopi and Zuni rituals.
Common Themes/Representations of Kokopelli
- humpbacked flute player
- fertility God
- human being who was a "player"
- good luck charm
- music man
Whatever he may have actually been, or not
been, he is the symbol of fun and prosperity for
me. I can't help but smile when I see his image,
and think of my visits to the beautiful Southwest.
Here's some more Kokopelli images:
Glover, Wayne. Kokopelli: Ancient
Myth/Modern Icon. Bellemont, AZ:
Camelback/Canyonlands Publishing, 1995.
Slifer, Dennis and Duffield, James. Kokopelli:
Fluteplayer Images in Rock Art. Santa Fe, NM:
Ancient City Press, 1994.
Walker, Dave. Cuckoo for Kokopelli. Flagstaff,
AZ: Northland Publishing, 1998.
Young, John V. Kokopelli: Casanova of the Cliff
Dwellers. Palmer Lake, CO: Filter Press, 1990.