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Who is Kokopelli?

Niki Acker
Updated: May 23, 2024

Kokopelli is a fertility god in many Native American cultures of the Southwestern United States, including the Hopi and Zuni tribes. Today, his figure is frequently seen on tourist items sold in the Southwest, as he has become somewhat of a mascot of the area in general. Kokopelli is widely depicted in ancient Native American art as well, including rock carvings and pottery dating back to the 8th or 9th century CE.

Kokopelli is typically depicted with a hunchback, long protrusions from the head, and a flute. In ancient depictions, he also often has a large phallus, though this feature is absent from most modern versions, as Spanish missionaries in the colonial period discouraged it. Images of Kokopelli often portray the god dancing and playing his flute. Kokopelli usually appears as a carved, painted, or drawn silhouette, though the Hopi also make Kokopelli kachina dolls. Kokopelli, like other Hopi gods, may also be portrayed by human dancers.

Kokopelli is somewhat of a trickster figure, and young, unmarried women may fear him, as he is said to bring unborn babies. In the mythology of the Ho-Chunk and Winnebago tribes, Kokopelli is able to detach his phallus and leave it in bathing areas in order to impregnate girls secretly. Kokopelli is also associated with marriage. In the Hopi tradition, Kokopelli has a consort named Kokopelmana.

In addition to human fertility, Kokopelli presides over agriculture and the fertility of game animals. Water animals and sun-loving animals, such as snakes, are also associated with the god. Kokopelli is associated with music, as he is a flute player, and the music from his flute brings rain and heralds the spring, when plants become fertile. In some tellings, Kokopelli's hunchback is actually a sack filled with seeds and babies. In general, Kokopelli is a positive figure who brings abundance and enjoyment of life to his followers.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a Language & Humanities editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
Discussion Comments
By mentirosa — On Nov 09, 2008

I heard that Kokopelli brings good luck. You can mostly see Kokopelli in the desert communities of United States.

Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a Language & Humanities editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide...
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