Story page 3
Date/Time: 03/06/2001 17:41:25
Idolized by the ancient Native American tribes of New Mexico, Kokopelli
was known as "The Joy Bringer." He was a mystical merrymaker
who traveled from village to village spreading happiness with his music
and good humor.
It is said his flute had power over the animals, and even Mother
Earth herself. Kokopelli is often pictured with a hump-back, although
many believe that it was actually a basket, with which he carried away
Kokopelli possessed the wisdom of the ages. This joyful traveler
had lessons for all. Perhaps his greatest lesson was showing us that we
shouldn't take life so seriously.
Of all the different ways to describe
Kokopelli, perhaps the best is...Fun Loving Native American Scoundrel.
Date/Time: 03/05/2001 18:54:24
Kokopelli is a prehistoric Southwestern "personage," whose origins,
in some research literature, probably dates back to Mexico. The contention
is that it appears significantly in Basketmaker III through Pueblo III
(approximately 400 AD to 1300) among the Anasazi, and is generally associated
with the Hopi Flute Clan and the Tewa Nepokwa'i.
This is a multi-purpose deity with overlapping attributes, and it may
also be both a male and female figure, although we most often see the
figure as either a male or non-gendered figure. It is curious, because
contemporary art and jewelry often does not reveal any gender orientation,
so this question is sometimes asked.
Kokopelli's most obvious physical characteristic is the humped back, and
the most common paraphernalia, is the flute. Other characteristics include
antennae, a penis, and a clubbed foot. I read, some time ago, that the
hump may actually be a burden basket carrying seeds or children (infants).
The image is found in prehistoric rock art, effigy figures, pottery, and
kiva walls. It is a religious or supernatural figure, meant to invoke
rain, fertility among both humans and game, and sometimes perceived as
a seducer of women (young girls) and comparable to the Trickster (Schaafsma
1980 after Wellman 1970).
The flute which is used to invoke the supernatural can be seen as carrying
the message (request) to the supernatural, but simultaneously the hump
or the basket might be seen as carrying gifts (of life--for example, water)
to humanity from the supernatural and the flute signifying arrival of
Depending on the legend one choses to follow, the different characteristics
are associated with different myths. Schaafsma covers this topic very
well in her 1980 text, "Indian Rock Art of the Southwest" and
she derives most of her information from an article by K.F. Wellmann,
"Kokopelli of Indian Paleology: Hunchbacked Rain Preist, Hunting
Magician, and Don Juan of the Old Southwest," published in 1970,
in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Apparently, Kokopelli is just as important to the Hopi today, as he was
in the past, he being the important rain priest, associated with the locust
and found often together with the snake. Earlier interpretations of being
associated with the "fire of life", as suggested by Fewkes (1903),
remain inconclusive, according to Schaafsma. The phallic nature of the
flute player and even the name of Kokopelli, however, appear to be recent
additions, while the hump, the flute, and locust associations are much
Date/Time: 03/05/2001 18:34:43
The lore of Southern Utah has it that a little man named Kokopelli
used to travel the villages long ago. He carried a bag of corn seed on
his back, and taught the people to plant corn.
At night, while the people slept, Kokopelli roamed the corn fields,
playing his flute. The next morning villagers would arise to find the
corn four feet tall and Kokopelli vanished. Also many of the young women
of the village would be pregnant.
Drawings of Kokopelli, also known as
the Anasazi Casanova, decorate rock panels throughout southeastern Utah.
The Sand Island Rock Art Panel has a special claim to fame: five Kokopelli
figures. The Navajos of Monument Valley can show you a unique Kokopelli
petroglyph: He’s lying on the ground, playing his flute. Both Kokopelli
sites are close to camping areas where you can stop for a good night’s
sleep. But if, during the night, you hear the gentle tones of the flute,
you’d better lock up your wives and daughters.
Date/Time: 03/05/2001 18:10:09
KoKopelli is: Ancient Hopi Indian God of Powerful Communication and Fertility.
Who is kokopelli (or Kokopilau)? This magical character has held our interest
since the first petroglyhs were carved around 3,000 years ago. He predates
even Oraibi, the oldest continuous settlement in North America. Hopi legend
tells us that upon their entrance onto this, the fourth world, the Hopi
people were met by an Eagle who shot an arrow into the two "mahus,"
insects which carried the power of heat. They immediately began playing
such uplifting melodies on their flutes that they healed their own pierced
bodies. The Hopi then began their separate migrations and each "mahu"
would scatter seeds of fruits and vegetables onto the barren land. Over
them, each played his flute to bring warmth and make the seeds grow. His
name -- KOKO for wood and Pilau for hump (which was the bag of seeds he
always carried)-- was given to him on this long journey. It is said that
he draws that heat from the center of the Earth. He has come down to us
as the loving spirit of fertility -- of the Earth and humanity. His invisible
presence is felt whenever life come forth from seed -- plants or animals.
Date/Time: 03/05/2001 17:59:04
Kokopelli's Design Elements
Kokopelli, the hump backed flute player of the American Southwest, is
a trickster who will take over your imagination for a while if you let
him. He belongs to a number of Uto-Aztecan and Keresan people in the American
Southwest, and many stories are told about him. The Hopi call him Kókopilau
('wood hump'). I think that Kokopelli is a trickster, willing to wander
from his people to play tricks on all the peoples of the earth. Here are
some notes about how to draw Kokopelli like the ancient Anasazi drew him
on the rocks of their desert homeland.
Crest: The crest represents the paired antennae of the katydid (Hopi mahu)
form of the Kokopelli. There is usually an even number of crest elements.
If multiple they may project from the hump as well as the head. Sometimes
they appear to represent rays of light. Ends of crest elements are sometimes
recurved or bulbous. According to Frank Waters and Oswald White Bear Fredericks
(in their well known Book of the Hopi) the mahu is paired, with the Kokopelli
without antennae representing the Blue Flute Clan, the one with antennae
the Gray Flute Clan; while the Kokopelli with bulbous antennae represents
the kachina of that name.
Head and Eye are not very variable.
Hump: The hump may be an arc which may cover the entire back, or only
the lower half. Often, particularly in present day Anglo Kokopelli designs,
the hump may be represented as a curve of the entire body, as if the dancer
were bending forward. The hump might represent a hunchback deformity,
or the curved back of the katydid, or the back-pack of a wandering peddler.
Arm chevron: The arms are usually depicted as a chevron, representing
the elbows pointing earthward.
Flute: The flute is usually a straight line or pair of lines. Often the
end is flared or bulbous like the end of a clarinet. This flare is ancient,
and is not a contemporary addition to the design. Occasionally Kokopelli
plays two flutes, like an ancient Greek aulos.
Shape notes: The two musical shape notes are entirely my own contribution.
They represent the descending interval Do-La in Swan seven-note (New
Harp of Columbia) notation, the familiar two note "Johnny!"
of a mother calling her distant child. John
McCutcheon wrote an entire song ("Calling all the Children Home",
on Live at Wolf Trap 1990) around this theme.
Phallus: Not represented here, an erect phallus often projects upward
from the lower body. This element is ancient, being clearly represented
on a thousand year old bowl displayed at Mesa
Verde National Park. It may be a simple line or an arrow. The phallic
arrow may be drawn transfixing the trunk, evoking the mahu transfixed
by an arrow, but I'm not certain of the authenticity of this element.
(I think I may have dreamt it.)
Forward leg: The forward leg is a continuation of the curved line that
delineates the hump.
Backward leg: Similarly, the backward leg continues the straight line
of the front of the body.
For more Kokopelli
links than you can probably stand to look at, try "Kokopelli's
Rafael Olivas at http://www.mythoslink.com/kokopelli.html had a particularly
nice Kokopelli graphic with comments (Prettier picture and less talk than
mine!), but it's gone missing.
1 2 3
4 5 6