known as the Kokopelli Trail

In his domain over agriculture, Kokopelli's fluteplaying chases away the Winter and brings about Spring. Many tribes, such as the Zuni, also associate Kokopelli with the rains. He frequently appears with Paiyatamu, another flautist, in depictions of maize-grinding ceremonies. Some tribes say he carries seeds and babies on his back.

Kokopelli also presides over the reproduction of game animals, and for this reason, he is often depicted with animal companions such as rams and deer. Other common creatures associated with him include sun-bathing animals such as snakes, or water-loving animals like lizards and insects. Because of this, some scholars believe that Kokopelli's flute is actually a blowgun (or started out as one), but this is a minority opinion.

Because of his influence over human sexuality, 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 in order to have sex with girls who bathe there. Among the Hopi, Kokopelli carries unborn children on his back and distributes them to women (for this reason, young girls are often deathly afraid of him). He often takes part in rituals relating to marriage, and Kokopelli himself is sometimes depicted with a consort, a woman called Kokopelmana by the Hohokam and Hopi.[1]

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 in the Southwestern United States. Like most fertility deities, Kokopelli presides over both childbirth and agriculture. He is also a trickster god and represents the spirit of music.

Kokopelli has been worshipped since at least the time of the Ancient Pueblo Peoples. The first known images of him appear on Hohokam pottery dated to sometime between AD 750 and AD 850.

Kokopelli may have originally been a representation of ancient Aztec traders, known as pochtecas, who traveled to this region from northern Mesoamerica. These traders brought their goods in sacks slung across their backs, and this sack may have evolved into Kokopelli's familiar hump (in fact, many tribes make Kokopelli a trader in this way). These men also used flutes to announce themselves as friendly as they approached a settlement. This origin is still in doubt, however, since the first known images of Kokopelli predate the major era of Aztec-Anasazi trade by several hundred years.

Kokopelli bears a passing resemblance to Bradshaw Paintings of North-West Australia (examples), which could be mere coincidence or sign of a common origin; some have suggested that ancient astronaut theories in the model of Erich von Däniken have attributed both to a common celestial source.

Another theory is that Kokopelli is actually an anthropomorphic insect. Many of the earliest depictions of Kokopelli make him very insect-like in appearance. The name "Kokopelli" may be a combination of "Koko", another Hopi and Zuni deity, and "pelli", the Hopi and Zuni word for the desert robber fly, an insect with a prominent proboscis and a rounded back, which is also noted for its zealous sexual proclivities. A more recent etymology is that Kokopelli means literally "kachina hump". Because the Hopi were the tribe from whom the Spanish explorers first learned of the god, their name is the one most commonly used.

A similar humpbacked figure is found in artifacts of the Mississippian culture of the U.S. southeast. Between approximately 1200 to 1400 AD, water vessels were crafted in the shape of a humpbacked woman. These forms may represent a cultural heroine or founding ancestor, and may also reflect concepts related to the life-giving blessings of water and fertility.

Kokopelli is one of the most easily recognized figures found in the petroglyphs and pictographs of the Southwest. The earliest known petroglyph of the figure dates to about A.D. 1000. Kokopelli was one of several kachina dolls sold to tourists. The Spanish missionaries in the area convinced the Hopi craftsmen to omit the phallus from their representations of the figure. As with most kachina dolls, the Hopi Kokopelli was often represented by a human dancer. These dancers apparently had great fun with missionaries and tourists by making obscene and sexual gestures that the foreigners did not understand.

1.        Young 18
2.        Slifer, Dennis, and Duffield, James (1994). Kokopelli: Flute Player Images in Rock Art. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Ancient City Press
3.        Young, John V. (1990). Kokopelli: Casanova of the Cliff Dwellers: The Hunchbacked Flute Player. Palmer Lake, Colorado: Filter Press. ISBN 0-86541-026-7

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KOKOPELLI was a beloved Southwestern Indian image and legend.  Many believe that the "ANCIENT ONES" also known as the "BASKETMAKERS" first brought the KOKOPELLI art to life, thru their Petroglyphs at ancient Southwest Indian Sites. KOKOPELLI art  is thought to date back to 200 A.D. In the known Petroglyphs there are many different shapes of the "KOKOPELLI" figure and each has its own story. "KOKOPELLI" is a symbol of the Southwest Indian culture.  

Kokopelli is a prehistoric deity depicted hundreds of times in rock art, some of it over a thousand years old, located in numerous sites in southwestern United States mountains and deserts areas, mainly in the Four Corners Region of the Southwest.  Often depicted as a humpbacked flute player, this mythic being has survived in recognizable form from Anasazi times to the present. There is something appealing about Kokopelli which fascinates people all over the world.

Kokopelli, the mysterious, humpbacked fluteplayer of the American Southwest, has been a sacred figure to Native Americans since prehistoric times. Fertility symbol, rain priest, roving minstrel and trader, hunting magician, and trickster, Kokopelli was painted and carved on rock walls and boulders.
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The Kokopelli Legend

The history of Kokopelli is legendary in the Southwest. This was his home. He was a mystical, often considered magical,
hunchbacked figure who wore feathers on his head and traveled around the Southwest playing his flute in ancient times.

Some legends have it that Kokopelli could not only charm the birds and animals, but that young women competed for his
attentions, for to be chosen by him was a guarantee of pregnancy.

Kokopelli's figure has been depicted many ways in petroglyphs and art. These art prints are just a few of my interpretations.

These digital art prints are from my original drawings that I have manipulated to look like a watercolor or oil painting.

The pictures you see below have been greatly compressed for viewing on the web. Actual prints are brilliant in color and

These art prints are all open editions. Each one is hand signed.

All Kokopelli art prints are professionally produced by a local lab on archival quality photo media.
These are NOT posters.

Money-back guarantee if not happy with your purchase!  
See my "General Info" page for details!
Kokopelli Art Print "1D"

This Kokopelli art print is ablaze with fiery reds and golds.  
Kokopelli Art Print "1E"

This Kokopelli art print has corals, purples and blues with a metallic effect.
Kokopelli Art Print "2A"

This Kokopelli print is rendered in deep reds and rusts with a copper metallic effect.
Kokopelli Art Print "2B"

This rendering has a textured bronze effect.
Kokopelli Art Print "2C"

This Kokopelli is a marbled, burgundy bronze with copper effects.
Kokopelli Art Print "2D"

This Kokopelli Art Print has pastel pinks, purples and blues, with a marbled glass effect.
Kokopelli Art Decor

The Desert Dancer studio
Susan Lorae

e While we may never know the origin or the full meaning of Kokopelli, it is clear that he held high importance as a deity in the arid American Southwest. His roles in scenes representing human reproduction, crop growth and water suggest that the Southwestern Indians associated him universally with fertility and prosperity. His roles in hunting scenes, processions, rituals and ceremonies suggest that the Indians connected him universally to their physical and spiritual well being.

One of the more exotic theories was mentioned by southwestern Colorado authority Michael Claypool during a discussion several years ago at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. He thinks that origins of the figure could eventually be traced all the way to Peru, where native traders carrying packs have long used flutes to announce their arrival at native villages. An archaeologist friend who has worked in Latin America tells me that Kokopelli-like figures are common icons in prehistoric sites of Southern Mexico and Central America.

One possibility is that Kokopelli could have been an actual misshapen person who was widely venerated for his power and wisdom. He could have been a young man, burdened with a pack, traveling among pueblos, seeking a wife; he played his flute to announce his mission. He could be a great leader, like Moses, who guided his people in a migration to a new homeland. He could have been a pochteca, a early bearer of gifts from central Mexico.

The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle which are available to us have produced endless and sometimes emotional conjecture about Kokopelli’s origin and meaning.

The relationships, if any, between Kokopelli and those figures which feature only a hump or just a flute is not clear and may never be clear.

This site, like other rock art sites in the Largo Canyon complex, is still revered by traditional Navajos. Vandals have defaced it in some areas, an act akin to desecrating a church, a synagogue or a mosque.

One of the more elaborate figures which could be a Kokopelli-type derivative was pecked by an 18th century Navajo shaman into a canyon wall at a sacred site in Northwestern New Mexico’s Largo drainage system. Surrounded by other symbols chiseled into the rock, this regal figure stands on muscled legs, wears a headdress and decorated kilt, and is depicted holding a staff rather than playing a flute. He bears, not a hump, but rather a rainbow-outlined pack adorned with feathers and filled with seeds.

Yet another possible forerunner includes humpbacked, phallic figures which carry bows rather than play flutes. Such figures are painted on the wall of Fire Temple in Mesa Verde National Park in Southwestern Colorado

Another possible related figures includes a humpbacked, phallic figure which is shown carrying a staff rather than playing a flute. One such example was painted on a bowl fashioned by the Mimbres Indians of Southwestern New Mexico some 900 to 1000 years ago.

One possible forerunner could have been simply flute players, lacking hump or phallus, such as those which appear in Canyon de Chelly rock art dating approximately 600 AD.

On occasions, multiple Humpbacked Flute Players appear in a single scene, perhaps seeking to redouble chances for fertility and prosperity.

Kokopelli’s guises, styles and roles have mystified scholars for decades. They have prompted divergent lines of research, given rise to diverse theories, and led to some downright silly speculation. Yet another layer of mystery about Kokopelli’s origin and evolution lies in possible forerunners and derivatives.

As indicated by his images, Kokopelli seems to have played a featured role in numerous defining moments of Southwestern Native American life. He leads processions of people, perhaps on migrations. He participates with costumed shaman figures in tribal rituals. He plays his flute for dances in tribal ceremonies. He joins with other figures to illustrate tribal myths. In hunting-magic scenes, he seeks to ensure success for men carrying bows and, sometimes, lances. He impregnates women. He participates in birthing scenes. Among ancient rain and water symbols, he plays his flute to plead for moisture sufficient for his tribe’s corn, beans and squash to grow.

He is also represented in many styles. Unmistakable Kokopelli images in rock art, for example, range from stick figures in Chaco Canyon to spare, abstract stylizations in Colorado’s San Canyon to simple outlines near Arizona’s Hardscrabble Wash to solid figures near Velarde, New Mexico. Elegant Kokopelli images painted on ceramics ten centuries ago by the Hohokam, a southern Arizona Pueblo culture, have become the prototype for modern portrayals.

He appears in many forms. In Galisteo Basin rock art in New Mexico, for instance, he takes on the guise of a humpbacked rabbit. At Sand Island, Utah, he appears as a flute-playing mountain sheep. In rock art on West Mesa, near Albuquerque, Kokopelli wears a headdress, necklaces and a kilt. On rock art south of Holbrook, Arizona, he wears a kilt and sash. On a prehistoric bowl from the Zuni reservation, he appears as an insect, possibly the locust which led the Pueblo people’s mythological emergence from the underworld onto the surface of the earth. On rock art in the Arizona’s Petrified Forest and Canyon de Chelly and near Moab, Utah, Kokopelli turns up with a bird for a head.

In classic form, a silhouetted and sometimes phallic Kokopelli appears to either suffer a humped back or to carry a bulging pack. He plays his flute like a New Orleans jazz musician plays a clarinet. He may be depicted as walking to some now unknown destination, lying on his back, sitting with crossed legs, dancing to a prehistoric beat, making love to a woman, even perching on the head of another figure

Ubiquitous as the figure is, the origins of Kokopelli as a deity and the evolution of his role in Southwestern Indian life are difficult if not impossible to reconstruct. It is like trying to assemble an immense and mysterious jigsaw puzzle made up of a jumble of a few distinguishable pieces, many indistinguishable pieces, innumerable missing pieces, and numerous possibly unrelated pieces.

In earlier times, Kokopelli was far more than an icon. There is, in fact, considerable evidence that he was an important deity to Southwestern Indians. His images are among the most widely distributed of any in the prehistoric and historic Indian sites of the Southwest. Kokopelli may have been as important to the Southwestern Indians as Abraham is to Jews or Paul, to Christians.

In the modern genre, he usually wears a kilt and sash and a feathered headdress. Back arced forward like a rainbow, he plays his ancient instrument. He dances solemnly. He graces paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, textiles and books in galleries and festivals in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and western Texas. He is an icon of the region.

Kokopelli has stirred imaginations for a long time. Of the lexicon of characters featured in the age-old religions, rituals, folk tales, ceramics, rock art and murals of Southwestern Indians, there are few more enduring than Kokopelli. He is so irresistibly charismatic that he had been reinvented time and again for well over 1000 years by southwestern artists, craftsmen and storytellers. The process continues to this day.

There is no way to know with certainty what the artist had in mind, but his work can set your imagination churning.
Of course, he may have simply used the boulder’s surface as a convenient place to peck a Kokopelli figure.

Against the black rock surface formed by primal forces, this strange and lonely figure, with its apparent mal-formed back and long flute, seems to drift through the infinite vastness of space, transcending time and place, sending his plaintive music across the universe. There is a sense of omnipresence, of the eternal. The early artist – probably a shaman, or medicine man, seeking an entranceway to the spirit world – may have understood a profound truth, and he may have intentionally used the surface to express the universality of that truth.

Text by Jay W. Sharp
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.
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