His image is found on rock carvings, paintings and pottery throughout the American South-West: the figure of a dancer, bent over and hunch-backed, his hair (or maybe a headdress) flung wildly behind him, playing a flute. He has transcended his regional Native American origins and can be found in popular culture. But who is the Kokopelli?
He's a Trickster god and represents the spirit of music. Originally, he was a fertility deity, worshiped by several Southwestern tribes, including the Anasazi. It was said that his flute playing chased away the winter and that the hump on his back was a pack containing seeds. The Zuni Indians associated him with the rains. Among the Hopi it was also said that his pack contained unborn babies which he would give to women (and that for this reason, young unmarried girls feared him!). Sometimes he was depicted with a consort, Kokopelmana.
His flute may have originally been a pipe, or possibly a blow-pipe. Some scholars have suggested that Kokopelli was originally a representation of Aztec traders, who carried their goods in packs much like his and who played a flute to advertise before coming into a village.
And yes, being a fertility god, Kokopelli is frequently depicted with a prominent penis. This aspect of his is usually omitted from the key-chains and t-shirts they sell to tourists.
Game and Story Use
- The PC's encounter a traveling peddler with a flute. Is he just a friendly merchant, or is there something more to him?
- If there are any female PC's in the party, he might be very friendly!
- One thing you can be sure of: wherever Kokopelli shows up, there's going to be a party!