When (Molatki), and can be distinguished from his hunch-back,

When
I was visiting my aunt in Arizona I kept seeing a weird symbol of a man hunched
over playing the flute.  When I first saw
this symbol I ignored it thinking it was an “Arizona” thing.  When I got home I asked mom what they were
because I ended up seeing them everywhere, coffee shops, books, jewelry, and so
on.  She told me they were called
Kokopelli, when I asked her what that meant she just stated that they were some
sort of flute player.  At that time my
mind went to ease about the mysterious flute-playing Kokopellis, but then I
entered this semester and guess what weird symbol showed up on my Native
American Music book?  That’s right, you
guessed it, Kokopelli!  There he is
again!  Later in the semester my teacher
addressed this saying it was seen as a fertility deity, but the class did not
go much further into it than that, so by now my curiosity peaked and here I am
now writing a paper over the legends and lore of the Kokopelli so that my mind
might finally be put to ease.  In this
paper I will discuss what the kokopelli are, where they are seen, the different
images that this deity has been seen as, why he is important, and the different
legends and lore behind him in the different Nations.

The
Kokopelli is known most commonly as an ancient, humpbacked flute playing deity
(Molatki), and can be distinguished from his hunch-back, dancing pose and flute
(KokOasis.com).  He is the only
anthropomorphic petroglyph that has an identity, name and established gender as
a male (KokOasis.com).  His name could
have come from many different places. 
One origin of the name comes from the Zuni name for god (Koko) and the
Indian name for the Dessert Robert Fly (pelli) (KokOasis.com).  The –pelli half of the name came from the
Dessert Robert Fly because this insect also has a hump on his back and a
prominent phallus, like many of the images of the Kokopelli (KokOasis.com).  For the Hopi the name may have to do with the
name of a Hopi Katsina. (Slifer)  The
Katsina is a respected spirit of the Hopi and is associated with fertility and
rain (Slifer).  Besides these origins he
is known by other names too, these names do not have a distinct origin.  The Hopi also call him Kokopilau which means:
wood hump (KokOasis.com).  He is also
known as Kokopele, Kokopetivot, and Olowlowishkya (KokOasis.com).  Kokopelli also bears the nickname of “Casanova
of the Cliff Dwellers”, which makes sense for where he is often seen
(KokOasis.com).

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Where
is the Kokopelli seen, though?  Today one
can see him anywhere in the four corners, on jewelry, signs, pottery and
more!  In the past, though, Kokopelli was
most often seen on rock art (Molatki). 
He was also seen on paintings and these art forms can date as far back
as 3,000 years (KokOasis.com)!  There was
mentioned to be petroglyphs of him on the cliff walls of Chaco Canyon, which
could be part of the reason for his nickname (Hill).  However, if one lives in Maine and has not traveled
much they may have close to no idea of what image this essay is talking about
due to the Kokopelli images being most common in the American Southwest,
predominantly in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona (Malotki).

For
those lovely people in Maine who have no idea of this image of the Kokopelli,
it will now be described!  The Kokopelli
images vary as much as the legends about him (KokOasis.com).  Generally though, the image is a hunched back
flute player in a dancing pose with a festive crest on his head –no that is not
hair—sometimes he can be seen with exaggerated male genitalia
(KokOasis.com).  These images were
painted on ceramics tens of centuries ago by then name Hohokam, and has become
the prototype for modern representations (KokOasis.com).  Kokopelli’s hump is sometimes an arc that covers
the whole entire back, while other times the hump only covers the lower half of
his back (KokOasis.com).  His arms are
usually placed in a “V” shape with his elbows pointing down to the Earth
(KokOasis.com).  His forward leg
continues with the curved line of his hump, while his rear leg continues in the
same way of the front line of his body (KokOasis.com).  Kokopelli’s flute is considered to be a nose flute
and is represented as a straight line or pair of lines, although sometimes this
flute is observed as curved (KokOasis.com). 
The flute also has a round, swollen end much like the end of a clarinet
(KokOasis.com).  The crest on top of
Kokopelli’s head usually has an even number (KokOasis.com).  In the pueblo culture his crest represents antennae
of a katydid, which he is also sometimes associated with (KokOasis.com).  They pair him with this insect due to the
similar sound of the insect that he sometimes plays (Slifer).  When Kokopelli is symbolized in the “Spirit
World” he can appear with feathers on his head and sometimes even rays of light
(KokOasis.com).  When Kokopelli’s phallus
appears in the images it is usually long and erect to represent the fertile
seeds of human reproduction (KokOasis.com). 
The phallus usually protrudes up and away from his lower body, but in
today’s art he often wears a kilt or sash (KokOasis.com).

So,
why is this symbol so important that he was drawn so many times over and over
again with different representations but over a wide range of area?  The Kokopelli’s visual art appearance touch
on ceremonial, ritual, and social interaction behaviors of many people
(Malotki).  He is also helpful when it
comes to inter personal responsibilities seen within gender issues and
expectations of the tribal people (Molatki).

Let
us now get deeper into the Kokopelli by discussing his many legends and
lore.  He has obtained so many different
stories due to being one of the most widespread and intriguing images that
survived from ancient Indian mythology (KokOasis.com).  He retained the nature of being playful and
carefree, this was because he was always seen to bring out the good in anyone
he came in contact with (KokOasis.com). 
Universally he was known as an omen of fertility, or guaranteed hunting
success, crops growing, and human conception (KokOasis.com).  First, let us discuss the Anasazi because
these were the first people to claim the Kokopelli (KokOasis.com).  This Nation was made of mostly farmers who
would grow squash, corn and beans on the Colorado Plateau (KokOasis.com).  The Anasazi held Kokopelli as a symbol of
fertility and was welcomed during the season that they planted their corn because
his visit confirmed that they would have a good harvest for that season (KokOasis.com).  The Navajo believed Kokopelli was a God of
Harvest and Plenty, but he was not seen as a major god, instead they saw him as
a nonthreatening god who brought abundant rain and food to people
(KokOasis.com).  The Zuni also believed
he brought rain by viewing him as their Rain Priest (KokOasis.com).  To the Hopi, however, Kokopelli was a musical
god that took part in rituals that joined two individuals together through
marriage (Giacona, Peck).  The Hopi celebrated
with a ceremony that lasted nine days called the Flute Dance (Giacona,
Peck).  The Hopi women believed that he
brought them babies, but when they could not bear children they would seek him
out to return their childbearing powers (KokOasis.com).  In Southern Utah he was seen as a man that
would travel through villages with his bag of corn on his back and would teach
people how to plant as he went from town to town (KokOasis.com).  He also would trade beads and shells for
pieces of turquoise (KokOasis.com).  This
legend of the Kokopelli is thought to have been derived from the traveling
traders of that time due to them announcing their arrival through playing
flutes while entering into the town (KokOasis.com).  According to the legend of the San Ildefonso
the Kokopelli was a wandering musician who carried songs in the bag found on
his back, he traded new songs for old ones and brought wealth and good luck to
anyone who was willing to listen to his songs (KokOasis.com).  He personified everything pure and spiritual
about music travelling village to village with his magical flute giving gifts
and spreading cheer to everyone he visited—like Santa (KokOasis.com)!  His flute symbolized joy and happiness and
when he played all animals even came to him to hear his music, while the sun
came out melting the snow and letting the grass grow with the birds singing in
signs that Spring was coming  (KokOasis.com).  His flute was also magical in the way that it
was said to stimulate creativity and help people’s good dreams come true
(KokOasis.com).  The Kokopelli’s hump
even has its own legends!  In Pueblo
myths his hump was said to carry seeds, blankets, and babies to offer to the
maidens that he had seduced (KokOasis.com). 
In the Navajo culture his hump was made of clouds that contained seeds
and rainbows (KokOasis.com).  In the Hopi
culture it was believed to carry deer skin shirts and moccasins that were used
to barter for brides and babies (KokOasis.com). 
In other myths and cultures his bag contained seeds for every plant and
flower found in the world and he scattered the seeds every spring (KokOasis.com).

So
now that you have read all of the facts about the Kokopelli, you might be wondering
where is he now?  They are still found
everywhere!  Especially in the four
corner states, as I mentioned in my introductory paragraph I saw him while
visiting my aunt in Arizona on pots, jewelry, even sculptures.  I brought home with me a welcome sign for my
mom that even has his famous figure on him! 
Although, now, due to the influences of Catholic priests “Christianizing”
the Native Americans of the southwest, his image has been cleaned up of his
phallus and now wears sashes that look like a dress or long shirt.
(KokOasis.com). The Kokopelli remains fun and enticing through the different
images and legends and lore that have been kept alive for centuries.