Saturday, September 7, 2013


On June 29, 2013, I put up a posting titled “The Most Northern Kokopelli” in which I discussed some examples of the hump-backed flute player that appeared farther north than usual. At that time I inquired if any of my readers knew of other examples, perhaps even farther north. I hit the jackpoint with that when Peter Jessen responded directing me to a reference to an example in James Keyser and Michael Klassen’s marvelous book Plains Indian Rock Art which refers to an example in Alberta, Canada.

Grotto Canyon Kokopelli, Alberta, Canada. After 
Keyser and Klassen, 2001, p. 105, Fig. 7.13.

This is what Keyser and Klassen had to say about this interesting figure:

“One of the most intriguing Northwestern Plains rock art sites is Grotto Canyon, situated in the Rocky Mountains west of Calgary, Alberta. Although some pictographs here show similarities to other eastern Columbia Plateau sites, others bear an uncanny resemblance to rock art of the American Southwest, making them among the most mysterious and enigmatic of any in the region.” (p.105)

“Most intriguing, however, is a small hunched human figure (fig. 7.13), with legs bent at the knees and thin “antennae” sprouting from its head. With both hands it holds a long, thin object to its mouth. Although this image is unique in both Northwestern Plains and Columbia Plateau rock art, anywhere in the Southwest it would be instantly recognized as Kokopelli, the flute player. In Hopi tradition this hunch-backed trickster has special powers and acts as both a fertility symbol and a rain priest. He can call the rain by playing his sacred flute, and he carries seeds, blankets and special gifts with which he seduces young women." (p. 105-6)

Grotto Canyon Kokopelli at lower left.

Yup, that sounds and looks like our boy all right, the Kokopelli we all know and love. Thank you Peter for the reference, and keep looking at the rocks.

NOTE: Not having an actual photo of the Grotto Canyon Kokopelli, I have used a reproduction of the black and white illustration from the Keyser and Klassen book (top) and then scanned a color reproduction printed out from an illustration found online (below).

Keyser, James D., and Michael A. Klassen
2001   Plains Indian Rock Art, University of Washington Press, Seattle.

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