Kokopelli, A Fun-Loving Guy

By | June 2, 2019

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A medium sized Coyote and Kokopelli by artist Alan Pfeiffer are silhouetted at sunset on Capistrano beach. Source: (Photo by Bob Grieser/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

One of the most recognizable figures in Native American art of the Southwest is Kokopelli, the hump-backed flute player. Today, images of Kokopelli grace nearly every gift shop trinket, from t-shirts to keychains, to can koozies, to necklaces, to cellphone cases, and more. Kokopelli is so popular because he seems like a fun guy, dancing and playing his flute. But how much do you know about this Native American deity? Let’s explore Kokopelli’s backstory. 

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Kokopelli in Anasazi petroglyphs. Source: (topsecretwriters.com)

The Hopi and Anasazi Indians

Kokopelli is a mythical deity of the Hopi Indians of the American Southwest. Historians believe that the familiar image that we see of Kokopelli, with his rounded back, feathers in his hair, and his iconic flute, was actually borrowed by the Hopi from ancient Anasazi petroglyphs. The Anasazi were an ancient group of Native American who lived thousands of years ago in the Four Corners region. They were known for building elaborate Pueblos high in the cliffs and etching unique images into the cliff faces and canyons of the area.