If you lived through the popularity of Native American/Southwest decor fascination of the 1990’s, you know this image. He was SO fuckin’ hip at the time – I give you, Kokopelli:
This pic is from Chaco Canyon. Kokopelli is from the Hopi Indians, and he has a great story; he might even be considered part of an archetype of flute/pipe playing deities/symbols (someone disable my slash key, m’kay?) because there are a lot of them. I got some good information from here: http://www.shamanicvisions.com/music-folder/kokopelli.html that confirms stuff I have read in the past about this now recognisable figure. Now I go all quote like, and cut and paste, with all credit to the site above:
The Hopi usually depict Kokopelli, the Humpback Flute Player, as a stick figure in the act of walking. He has antennae on top of his head. He is usually bent forward, blowing into a flute that he holds between his hands. His back is bowed, filled with sacred cargo. Kokopelli is a traveler. His luggage or humpback contains the seeds to be scattered. His flute calls the rains to nourish the seeds.
The Hopi say that Kokopelli is the antidote for Panayoikyase (an Ancient Being, or Power, which is full of destruction of the earth, of the people). Kokopelli calls forth the energy necessary to defeat Panayoikyase with the magic of his flute, awakening that power within people’s hearts.
They go on to say he is also a fertility figure, and I know I have seen pictures of him with a big erection, but have not been able to find anything authentic (although I must admit to not wanting to shuffle through page after page of the stuff I DID find).
What makes him Heinous is that his cute little form was used on ALL sorts of things, from jewelry, t-shirts, cards, posters, tattooes, wind-chimes, candles, basically anything that could be sold…
…and he was really, really popular, until everyone got sick of his little ass, then began making parodies or should we call them tributes?
No, let’s call them what they really are, the co-opting of an image that sold a lot of stuff. For a little while, they were cute and gave the impression that someone owning something with this image on it was an Earth-Friendly Non-Threatening Sensitive sort of person who was basically joyfull. But, as we do, we beat an image into a joke, and it becomes meaningless, or its meaning changes far beyond, to where you have to explain why you have this thing.
I want to call this phenomenon Saturation. An image gets so much play, or it is co-opted by a group of people to have a certain meaning that really has nothing to do with why it first was crafted, and I suppose mythology can only stay relevant if it is changed, if it wants to be a meme and spread.
We got Saturated with this image to the point of boredom, and we’ve moved on, consumers of the Next Shiny that we are. Now Kokopelli looks dated and used up, no longer hip. He looks dated, and that’s too bad, because chewing up and spitting out art is not the way to really consume it – you need to digest it.