Let’s hear it for the Kokopelli!
Along with the saguaro, the kokopelli is the ubiquitous symbol of the Southwest. Plant the first in the front yard, and hang or display the other inside on anything from wall art to table napkins and you’ve arrived! Practically a native! Authentic Southwest!
How the kokopelli rose to the top as the lowest common denominator of native Southwestern art is beyond me.
Who or what the kokopelli represents is beyond anthropologists, too, as various origin legends trail off onto divergent paths lost to the past.
No matter. The kokopelli has charisma and charisma sells.
Camp Verde Arizona proudly claims the rights as home to the world’s largest kokopelli. Sunland Home Décor has an entire online store devoted to the kokopelli. An outfit in Houston sells kokopelli jewelry, candles, coffee cups, tiles and other merchandize. The kokopelli is carved, painted, printed, sculpted, sandblasted and cut from iron. Shoot, I even put a kokopelli inlay in one of my own pieces.
As we all know, the kokopelli can be traced back to pictograph’s chipped into sandstone dating from about 750 AD.
In one account, the kokopelli derives from Aztec culture as a trader who traveled north, a bag of goods over his shoulder (morphed now into a typical hunchback), his flute used to announce his peaceful arrival among the ancient pueblo peoples.
Another version is more prosaic. The name may be a combination of Hopi and Zuni words for a deity and a particular fly known for its voracious sexual appetite. Many pictographs depict the kokopelli as a Mr. Happy Pants of prodigious proportions, an appendage rarely seen in modern home décor images.
The kokopelli also has been associated with fertility and the seasonal change from winter to spring.
Be that as it may – the kokopelli, by popular consensus, represents good cheer, good fortune, playful mischievousness, healing of woes and realization of dreams.
So, be it in the form of ancient pictograph, cultural symbol in contemporary art, or everyday kitsch, here’s to the Kokopelli, whoever he may be!
Note: I welcome your suggestions for future blog posts – firstname.lastname@example.org