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Kokopelli is an ancient enigma.

Kokopelli in Canyonlands National Park

Kokopelli in Canyonlands National Park

Kokopelli has become one of the most recognizable symbols of the US Southwest. He appears on everything from cups to caps, from T-shirts to tiles, from pottery to placemats. His modern incarnation is usually a curved stick figure playing a flute. To the ancient ones who scratched his image in petroglyphs he was many things. To some he was a symbol of abundance and fertility. To some he was a roving minstrel, to others a magician. He might have been a shaman or a seducer. He might have been a trader or a trickster. It's likely that he held several character traits at the same time. In any case, his image became the most recognizable of the rock-art figures, and an icon of the Southwestern United States.


Ancient American's left us many artifacts and many mysteries. We speculate on their cultures and their daily life by inspecting ruins of their homes, scratching through trash pits, and analyzing their artwork. They left us many examples of rock-art, generally in two forms. Pictographs are drawn or painted on rock surfaces, and are less common. Petroglyphs are images pecked into the rock surface. In Arizona, the Hohokam and other people scraped their designs through a dark varnish of iron oxide and magnesium oxide that formed on rock surfaces.

Kokopelli: The Magic, Mirth and Mischief of an Ancient Symbol by Dennis Slifer

Slifer is a research associate at the New Mexico Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. His engaging book explores one of the most enigmatic symbols of the Southwest. He looks at the flute player in four ways: a fascinating historical overview, a look at rock art in general, a look at the multiple faces and personalities of Kokopelli and a guide to rock-art sites. This is a great place to get closer to Kokopelli.

Kokopelli's libido (from Wikipedia)

"Kokopelli is a fertility deity, usually depicted as a humpbacked flute player (often with a huge phallus and antenna-like protrusions on his head), who has been venerated by many Native American cultures ... Kokopelli is often depicted with an inhumanly large phallus. Among the Ho-Chunk, this penis is detachable, and he sometimes leaves it in a river ..." Wkipedia on Kokopelli


On The Trail Of Kokopelli

"The Southwest Indians' Humpbacked Flute Player, commonly known by the Hopi word "Kokopelli," usually appears on stone or ceramics or plaster as part of a galaxy of ancient characters and symbols. On a steep canyon wall above the Little Colorado river north of Springerville, Arizona, however, a Kokopelli pecked into a basaltic boulder appears in absolute isolation." from DesertUSA by Jay W. Sharp... Full article


Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on January 30, 2011:

This is fascinating. The Kokopelli in art is stunning. i wonder why this deity was revered by various Native American cultures?

Pamela N Red from Oklahoma on January 16, 2011:

I love Kokopelli.

I think he was a flautist that led women out of the village much like the pied piper but I could be wrong.

jstankevicz (author) from Cave Creek on November 29, 2010:

Kokopelli is everywhere. Just look for him out of the corner of your eye ...

Geo on November 27, 2010:

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The movie "Milagro Bean Field War" opens with an, "Angel" in the form of Kokopelli, wandering the Desert night playing his flute. An excellent movie about Real Estate Developers pushing out native indigineous people by purchasing water rights, and high cost of living. A funny and interesting movie. Very Scenic.

GNelson from Florida on September 29, 2010:

I saw a kid with a tatto of a kokopelli on a scateboard. He was surprised that my wife and I knew it was a kokopelli. we didn't know kokopellis could scateboard. We didn't tell the kid that.

jstankevicz (author) from Cave Creek on March 01, 2010:

Hi Nell, thanks for dropping in all the way from Buckinghamshire! Kokopelli is one of the most recognizable symbols here in the US Southwest. The artists have adopted him, probably because it's an easy figure to generalize and represent.

Nell Rose from England on March 01, 2010:

Hi, i had never heard of this before. very interesting. I love anything like this as I love archaeology, and wall art. thanks for the info. cheers nell

newcapo on January 06, 2009:

I've lived here in AZ for 12 years and have always wondered what the Kokopelli was all about-- now I know. Excellent hub-great pictures too-thanks!

Brittany on August 25, 2008:

Yeah, thanks.It really helped with my Speech project.

CasaDeMataOrtiz from Fruitland, Idaho on June 05, 2008:

Great info on the kokopelli. Nice hub. Thanks. Bill

jstankevicz (author) from Cave Creek on July 29, 2007:

a little earlier than the 1960s, say a thousand years or so! Kokopelli is linked with the Anasazi from the Four Corners region...

Jason Menayan from San Francisco on July 29, 2007:

My parents used to live in Tucson and I used to see Kokopelli everywhere. Thank you for the history - I thought it was a figure from the 1960s or something!

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