You may be considering designing a Kokopelli tattoo as a way to make sure that your tattoo is unique, with perhaps a spiritual meaning. Before you walk into the tattoo parlor with a colorful rendition of the design you remember from your trip to Utah, take a moment to learn what this symbol actually means.
Who is Kokopelli? The Kokopelli is a deity that is founded in ancient Southwestern Indian culture. The Anaszai were likely the first to depict this entity, but most Southwestern Indians have some variation of this symbol. The Kokopelli is the deity over fertility, both in humans and agriculture, and would be called upon to ensure bountiful grain harvests as well as blessed marriage unions. To a lesser degree, the Kokopelli has power of music, and was also sometimes known as a trickster.
How Many Kokopelli Variations are There? There are many, many variations of the Kokopelli, depending on the tribe that depicts him, as well as the artist. The basic design includes a humpbacked flutist with protruding antennae and a curved instrument. Some earlier (and more explicit) depictions included an exaggerated, sometimes removable, phallus.
Is it Disrespectful to Get a Kokopelli Tattoo? The shortest answer is maybe. People who are otherwise respectful of native cultures and traditions may be perfectly able to get a Kokopelli tattoo as a way to honor the cultural tradition of Southwestern Indians. If you are just interested in inking a slightly vulgar symbol onto a part of your body, including all references to bodily fertility, you may want to think again. Although the Kokpelli has some trickster qualities, like all native religious symbols it should be respected and honored. Before you place it permanently onto your arm, run the design by a native historical society, just to be certain that the context and design are appropriate.
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