Kokopelli is a mythic figure that dates back to the Hohokam, Yuman and ancient Pueblo peoples of the American Southwest.
It appears that his full character crystalized among the Hopi people.
He symbolizes fertility and the bond of marriage, and is often depicted hunched over, playing his flute.
In Hopi myth, Kokopelli carries unborn children slung on his back and delivers them to expecting mothers. As such, many young women fear him, but later learn to love and respect him. The tribe believes that he may be seen depicted on the full moon.
He is also responsible for the children of game animals and he’s often shown walking amongst rams, deer, snakes, and insects. Every winter, Kokopelli plays his flute to chase away the cold winds and snow and usher in warm spring weather. Anthropologists believe he may represent ancient traders from the Aztec kingdom who arrived in today’s Southwest bearing sacks of precious goods upon their backs.
More recently, Kokopelli has been adopted by Southwest culture more generally, and many who hail from Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, and southern Utah identify with him. Most who bear the Kokopelli tattoo trace their lineage back thousands of years to a time before any European had landed on American shores. As a mythical figure, he continues to represent fertility, bounty, and long life for those descended from the Indigenous Americans of the Southwest.