photograph of Kokopelli

Kokopellicus Erectus

This photo of Kokopelli, humpbacked and well-hung flute player, was taken at Sand Island, on the San Juan River, a short distance from the community of Bluff, Utah. The petroglyph (rock carving) is one of many at Sand Island, a gathering spot of Native Americans for centuries.

Some carvings along the San Juan River have been dated at more than 2,000 years old (give or take a few centuries); Kokopelli images are not quite as old. There are hundreds of images of Kokopelli scattered throughout the American Southwest, but there isn't a universal Kokopelli image: One can find a Kokopelli without a flute, or without a humped back (which at one time might have been a sack for seeds, representing fertility), or minus phallus (another fertility symbol). Some Kokopelli (as in my photo) have horns or antennae.

The many historical guises and aspects of Kokopelli, travelling musician, fertility symbol, trickster, and seducer are described very well in the book Kokopelli: Flute Player Images in Rock Art by Dennis Slifer and James Duffield. The book is well indexed, has a helpful glossary, photos...some in color, and many drawings.

The photo was taken with a digital camera, and digital photo editing software was used to better distinguish the carving from the rock wall.

2001 by Norman Sams

Norm Sams Photos