The legend of Kokopelli
(pronounced "Coke-a-pellie") is well-preserved in ancient rock
carvings and paintings dating back as far as 3,000 years. His legend however, is
no less popular today - having survived more than one hundred generations.
Kokopelli, distinguished by his arched back, dancing pose, and flute, is the only petroglyph to have a name, an identity, and an established gender. His name may have been derived from the Zuni name for god ("Koko") and the Indian name for the Desert Robber Fly ("pelli"). To the Hopi, he is known as "Kokopilau" - meaning "wood hump". To others, he is known as Kokopele, Kokopetiyot, and Olowlowishkya.
Kokopelli was important to
many Native American tribes. He is especially prominent in the ancient Anasazi
culture of the Four Corners area (Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah). The
Anasazi, who were first to claim Kokopelli, regarded Kokopelli as a fertility
symbol and he was always welcomed during corn planting season. A visit from
Kokopelli insured that a good harvest was in store. According to Navajo legend,
Kokopelli was the God of Harvest and Plenty - a benign minor god who brought
abundant rain and food to people. The Zuni also regarded him as a Rain Priest,
able to make it rain at will.