Who Was Kokopelli?

The Legend of Kokopelli

Kokopelli, the Indian flute player and god of fertility, can be seen today on towels, mugs, shirts, bedding, and even tattoos, but his popularity is certainly nothing new. The humpbacked flute player is one of the most common images found in petroglyphs and pictographs of the Americas. His image can be found in ancient rock carvings and paintings dating as far back as 3000 years and he is featured prominently in Hopi and Zuni legends.
No one is really sure whether Kokopelli was a real person. Some theories suggest that he was a trader who used to travel through villages with a bag of seed on his back and announce his arrival by playing a flute. Another theory suggests that Kokopelli was a person at all, as the very earliest images of him were very insect-like in appearnce. The name "Kokopelli" may be a combination of "Koko", the Zuni name for ancestral spirits, and "pelli", the Hopi and Zuni word for the desert robber fly, an insect with a prominent nose and a rounded back.
But whatever his origins, Kokopelli is known in Native American legends as a whimsical, music-playing god of fertility. It is said that he would come to villages at night with his sack of corn, and in the morning when he left, the crops would be abundant and many of the young women of the village would be pregnant. His flute playing was thought to chase away the winter and bring about spring. Other tribes also associate Kokopelli with rain. According to Navajo legend, Kokopelli was the god of harvest and plenty, who could bring rain and food to the people.
Because he was a god of fertility, early images of Kokopelli often depicted him with large genitalia, but it is thought that Spanish missionaries encouraged Hopi craftsmen to leave this characteristic off their Kokopelli kachinas, and today's modern version of the flute playing fertility god is G-rated. His figure can be found on virtually any type of product and he has found favor with consumers who find his whimsical, flute-playing figure to represent fun and frolic.
Other names for Kokopelli (from Wikipedia):
  • Kokopele
  • Kokopelli-mana or Kokopelmana (actually, Kokopelli's wife) (Hohokam)
  • Kokopeltiyo
  • Kokopilau
  • Neopkwai'i (Pueblo)
  • Ololowishkya (Zuni)
  • Casanova of the Cliff Dwellers
  • Water Sprinkler
  • Humpbacked Flute Player
  • Hunchbacked Flute Player
(Photo above courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Sponsored Links