Go to Paint Rock, Texas
and step back a thousand years in time.

Pictograph predicting winter solstice and vernal equinox

Pictograph of Spring sky shows movement of star groups & predicts spring equinox.

The Remarkable Indian Pictographs

at Paint Rock, Texas.

A special place where the spirits of the past dwell.
Periodic Reports on the pictographs.

Links to other Paint Rock sites.

Click here to go to our Paint Rock home page. Click here to go to Paint Rock's own home page.
Click Here visit Concho Valley Archeological Society. Click Here to Read an Article on Paint Rock.
Click Here to Read About "Rock Art of the Texas Indians". Click Here to Read yet another old story about Paint Rock.

A Thousand Years of Indian Pictographs at Paint Rock.
Solar and Stellar Observatories Still Work Centuries Later.

WOW! - Click Here to Read about the New Discoveries about Kokopelli. - Added April 2, 2007

Click here to enjoy one minute of my Indian flute music while you read this page.

A little over an hour's drive west of our place, Paint Rock is a little dried up old West Texas town that looks like it's about to blow away with the next dust devil. It has only a couple of antique stores and a fabulous rugmaker, a cafe that is sometimes open and a post office that is usually open. When the cotton and cattle empires collapsed, like most small towns out here, it dwindled to a shadow of its former self, but the people are warm and friendly. If you are allergic to crowds and are content within yourself, Paint Rock, 16 miles south of Ballinger on US 83 is a great place to be. The entrance to the pictograph site is easily found being located right on the highway just north of town. The pictographs are on private property up on the steep canyon-like walls of the bluff above the flood plain of the the Concho River.

To get to the pictographs, open the main gate, drive through it and then be sure to close it behind you so that the two bison bulls don't wander out into traffic. Drive to the visitor's center and make tour arrangements or just follow the signs on the solstice. You will drive on an old, gravel ranch road which will wind its way down to the riverside canyon where there is a parking area. A pictograph is an ancient image painted onto stone whereas a petroglyph is an image carved into stone.

As soon as you get out of your car a sense of peace and quiet descends upon you and you feel yourself relaxing and the tensions of driving and modern life in general sort of melt away and the sounds of birds bring a feeling of serenity. The tranquility settles in almost immediately upon seeing your first pictograph as you become mesmerized and you can feel yourself becoming quietly swept up in an almost ageless world of ancient art, the meanings of most of which have been lost for hundreds of years. It's easy to become so caught up into staring at a pictograph as to completely lose track of time and forget where you are. Walking toward the crowd gathering a couple of hundred yards down the path, you begin to see more of the pictographs as you walk to where the tour is in session.

Fred and Kay Campbell, owners of the ranch, are genial hosts and conduct the tours themselves and point out as many of the interesting pictographs as can be seen from ground level and explain the meanings of those that have explanations. Of course, you see more than ancient art, you also see the graffiti of a couple of hundred years of European-Americans writing their names. Even if these Indians could write, they would never have written their names on the rocks as they believed it was bad to ever again say the name of a person who has died as that would disturb their rest - that's one reason why much of Indian history has been lost.

I first saw the pictographs in December of 2002 when I brought my cedar flute to play at the solstice observance. My flute playing was a big hit and I kept getting invited back and now have sort of become a fixture on solstice and equinox days. Being such a frequent visitor, I had many opportunities to see the paintings with my binoculars, since no one is allowed up on the sides of the palisades or cliffs where the paintings are. They are easily seen from the ground level even though they are 20 or more feet above you up the steep walls of the river canyon. Some of the images seemed somehow hauntingly familiar or reminded me of something but I didn't know what.

On the solstice or equinox, we gather at the appropriate marker and wait for the ray of light and I play my flute for a while leading up to the event, a triumphant song during the event and a nice long closing song. They're not songs you've heard before, they're things I make up, but the crowd loves them and I get lots of compliments and even a few requests for a CD. Who knows? one of these days I may record some of my flute music and play it through the website.

There are hundreds of paintings spread out over about a thousand feet - it's a great way to spend a day that you won't forget anytime soon.

New Explanations of Two Pictographs prove Paint Rock was an Extraordinary Astronomical Observatory

Pictograph predicting vernal equinox

The Spring Sky Chart

One painting in particular caught my eye and that one is shown above. The cute little triangular guy seemed almost out of place with the other figures and was a darker color. It was beautifully painted and obviously deliberately made to look the way it does. When you see it, it commands your attention and your admiration for a well done painting. It makes you wonder if it has some kind of meaning. As an amateur astronomer, I noticed an interesting resemblance of the little guy to Orion that you see in the winter sky, but the other stuff looked like gibberish.

Later on as I was looking at the stars I found there were some bright stars close enough to Orion and in the right places to trace out the lines of the cute little triangular guy, whom I promptly named "Skywalker". In looking around that same part of the sky, I immediately spotted the kite-like shape in Canis Major's tail and also the shape next to it in the picture. I could then see the form of the Big Bird-like shape behind Orion using Auriga, Gemini and the front part of Canis Major (Sirius is the heel). I knew right then and there that the painting depicted the night sky in winter, all I had to do was trace out the lines in the stars just the way the artist did hundreds of years ago. Using my computer astronomy program, I printed out star charts showing the skies visible from Paint Rock and sure enough, I found all the parts of the artwork in the winter sky just like the pictograph showed them. The artist was unaware of our standard European model of constellations and painted the shapes he saw instead.

Star map with artwork outlined to show stars involved in artwork. Star map with artwork outlined to show stars involved in artwork.

Additional research showed me that the pictograph indicates that Orion and the constellations that make up Big Bird all rise in the sky in the direction indicated by the ray-like light-colored lines. Later on a tomahawk rises and proceeds in a different direction also indicated by the different direction it's rays point to. Rather than rise like the other stars, the tomahawk rotates in a more obviously circular movement around the star Gacrux which hovers at the southern horizon. The tomahawk starts off cutting face down and as the night progresses toward dawn, the tomahawk rotates around until its cutting face is up at the horizon as if it was being raised to strike. See the Quicktime movie below to see it in motion.

Star map with artwork outlined to show stars involved in artwork. Star map with artwork outlined to show stars involved in artwork. Star map with artwork outlined to show stars involved in artwork. Star map with artwork outlined to show stars involved in artwork.

Click here for a movie.

Click on bottom picture above to see a Quicktime movie of the tomahawk rotating during the night.

In the Quicktime movie above, the curved green line is the horizon and on the left side in the sky is Corvus, the cutting edge and Crater being the other end of the head of the tomahawk. If you use your imagination, you san visualize the head of the tomahawk in these two small constellations. The grip of the handle, I think, is the bright star Canopus, just to the right of the word South. As you watch the movie you can see the tomahawk circle around and disappear beneath the horizon. You can use the grey control bar right under the movie to replay the movie or to move to any part of the sequence so you can see how it works.

The pictograph appears to use the bottom of the rock it is on as the southern horizon and the and the end of the handle appears to be painted partly on the bottom side of the rock so as to show it going under the horizon. The tomahawk’s purpose seems to be to show the rotation of things close to the southern horizon. The tomahawk was painted with some light colored “rays” emanating from it, I think to indicate it's direction of motion.

 Closeup of Pictograph showing tomahawk

Closeup of tomahawk area shows directional rays and thin black lines.
What appears to be a faint star just left of the handle is actually only a late afternoon shadow, it's not part of the pictograph.

I call the figure on the left Great Weasel and find that it takes up a huge part of the winter sky, comprising a dozen constellations. It is so big that you cannot see it's bottom parts, except that each night you can see a little more of Great Weasel's feet and tail and as winter progresses toward spring and by then it's nose will have progressed to below the northeastern horizon while his feet and tail are both finally visible just above the southwestern horizon and Great Weasel stretches all across the sky just before dawn on the first day of spring. Neat, huh? The only time you can see the tail is for a few days around the vernal equinox; at all other times throughout the year, the tail is below the horizon and cannot be seen in the northern hemisphere. That is what convinced me that the pictograph was intended to show the stars in the sky on the first day of spring. While some of the constellations are also winter constellations, the Great Weasel, as shown in the pictograph, can only be seen completely that way on the vernal equinox. This painter knew what he was doing.

The animals pictured in the painting appear to me to be dead, as indicated by the feet being in a dead position and the Skywalker appears to be marching upwards to the heavens. Many Indians in the Southwest saw the sky as the place where the souls of the departed went and the the stars were their campfires. They believed that once a person died you could never say their name again as it would disturb the deceased's spirit, which would come and haunt you. The depiction of the animals as dead and the Skywalker on his way in the shadow while walking up the light, seems to confirm to me that the image is indeed of the sky in terms of the animals and things the local Indians saw among the campfires in the sky. The Indians saw all animals as related by being the other children of Mother Earth and there were animals in their afterlife, The Happy Hunting Ground where the hunt went on.

I hope my use of the word Indian to describe these unknown people, probably the ones the Spaniards called the Jumanos (humans), but I am part Indian, Choctaw, and to me, growing up in Oklahoma, the word Indian was always a good word and evoked visions of very special people who knew things about nature the others didn't and who possessed great skills that allowed them to thrive where others failed. To me the word Indian is preferrable to indigenous persons or natives or aborigines or whatever politically correct name anyone wishes to use and I am rightly proud of my Indian heritage and yes, I know both Choctaw and Cherokee history. Indian is only a bad word if you see it as bad, I see it as a good word, even if it is utterly inaccurate as none of these people had ever been to the East Indies.

Pictograph showing Skywalker walking on light beam

The Skywalker "walking up the light beam" on the Vernal Equinox.

On the first day of spring a shadow is cast over the painting and at around 2:45 PM, the line separating light from shadow is right at the feet of the Skywalker making it look as though he is walking up the ray of light to the sky. The angle of the light is perfectly perpendicular to the axis of the skywalker. This sign is locally considered a reliable indicator of the vernal equinox.

Meanwhile, about 40 feet away, there is a small circle within a circle that has a spear of light briefly touch the center of the inner circle at the same time the light touches the skywalker's feet but it moves away quickly - Kay discovered it this year, March 20, 2005 when we were all present and we all saw it immediately when she yelped (she had been watching it for a couple of years waiting for something to happen).

As far as I know, there are no other skymaps yet discovered in any North American pictograph or petroglyph sites. It is unique to Paint Rock and that makes Paint Rock an even more special place and I feel immensely priveledged to have been the one to notice the true meaning of this remarkable painting.

Click here for a more complete discussion about the Winter/spring sky chart

The Winter Solstice Marker

Stylized turtle in shield with sunray piercing center.

Photo courtesy of Bill Yeates

This is a pictograph that is used as the winter solstice marker at Paint Rock. On the winter solstice, a ray of light caused by a crack in the rock overhead pierces the pictograph at the very center at exactly noon, local time. Mrs. Campbell says this only occurs during the winter solstice time but not at other times of year. More information later.

Pictographs describe 1054 and 1572 Supernovae

Pictograph showing 1054 supernova in Taurus

Pictograph of 1054 Supernova in Taurus.

Pictograph panel showing 1572 supernova near Cassiopeia Pictograph panel showing 1572 supernova near Cassiopeia

Pictograph panel tells of supernova in Cassiopeia in 1572.

A black single pictograph of Cassiopeia supernova A red single pictograph od Cassiopeia supernova

These two adjacent paintings help confirm the 1572 Cassiopeia supernova explanation.

There is another pictograph at Paint Rock that has gotten my attention. It is a rather complex set of images that contain a W-shape in several places , all within a few feet of the main panel. I knew that W shape was very familiar and I then noticed that every time the W was in a picture, so was a star-like image , always in the same place. This set me to thinking that it looked like Cassiopeia and I thought I remembered there had been a supernova there and I went home and looked it up on the internet and sure enough, there had been and it was in the exact spot shown in the paintings. The pictograph also shows stylized representations of other star groups in the area and a calendar showing it occurred in November - which it did. This supernova was bright enough to be seen in daylight for several weeks. This would have shaken up the local folks when something that spectacular pops up out of nowhere. This would have been a very alarming experience for them and worth such a prominent place among the rocks.

Star map of Cassiopeia with artwork outlined to show stars involved in artwork. Star map with artwork outlined to show stars involved in artwork.

These star charts show the locations of the 1572 supernova in the sky and the possible identification and locations of the other images in the pictograph.

A Petroglyph of the 1572 supernova found at Las Lunas, NM.

Paint Rock has the first known aboriginal images of the 1572 supernova in North America or anywhere else, but now I believe I have found a petroglyph at Tome Hill, near Los Lunas, south of Albuquerque, with Cassiopeia being portrayed as a rattlesnake (see picture). Now that archeoastronomers have some idea of what to look for, perhaps others will be found. It should be a little easier to find things once you know what to look for. The Paint Rock pictograph and the Tome Hill petroglyph each show the supernova in slightly different places than Tycho's illustration, which is the closest to the actual location, indicating to me that the supernova was so bright that it obscured nearby stars and the artists were estimating it's position relative to Cassiopeia.

Petroglyph at Las Lunas, NM

This petroglyph at Las Lunas, NM, May also portray the 1572 Supernova if the rattlesnake was how the locals saw Cassiopeia, and I think it was.
Notice how much brighter the warrier's shield is than the rattlesnake. The person who pecked this out was trying to tell us something. The Supernova was too bright not to have been recorded by many cultures but we have to try to look through the images to the underlying symbology.

Star map of Cassiopeia with artwork outlined to show stars involved in artwork. Star map showing exact location of the supernova.

The star is shown in somewhat different places by all the artworks, perhaps because the star was so bright that its light faded out the nearby stars so they probably couldn't see its exact location until a few weeks after the pictographs/petrographs were done. Other yet undiscovered sites will probably similar discrepancies for the same reason.

NASA X-Ray picture of Supernova remnant.

NASA false color X-Ray photo of the remnant of the supernova on Sept. 12, 2002.

The nova faded out completely leaving no visible trace after a few months, but today it is a very strong X-Ray source but does not emit light in the visible part of the spectrum and is known to our Eurocentric world as Tycho's supernova.

This pictograph and petroglyph are important in that they tell about a known event at a known time and was corroborated by Europeans (Tycho Brahe) at the time. The event was the supernova of November, 1572 that occurred near Cassiopeia. This is important because it gives anthropologists and archeologists a known landmark. The same thing applies to the pictograph, correctly interpreted by Dr. William Yeates, a retired physicist who has written books about Paint Rock and a couple of other pictograph sites in Texas, showing the 1054 supernova in Taurus. These two pictographs give us a date range for the site. We know it is at least as old as 1054 and was still active at recent as 1572. The Jumanos were eventually supplanted by the Commanches and was probably abandoned around 1800 or so, based on when we begin to see Euro-American graffiti on the rocks. By the end of 1870s all the surviving Indians (Commanches) in the area were rounded up and sent up into Oklahoma, ending around 12,000 years of local history and beginning a whole new chapter.

The Hueco Tanks pictograph site near El Paso has images that go back several thousand years and so we might find some that are very old as well. Indian cultures all had unique styles of arrowheads, spear points and other projectile points and so maybe different cultures had different styles of painting pictographs and we may one day learn the ages of more of the images as we learn more about the people who made them.

Stylized total eclipse of the sun.

Image of what may be a total eclispe of the sun.
Photo courtesy of Bill Yeates

There are many other pictographs there depicting many things, some known, some unknown. Since it is art we are free to let our minds roam and see if we can find an explanation that makes sense and fits the images in the pictographs. It is an exhilerating feeling to figure out something that has remained a mystery for so long. Since I am an avid amateur astronomer, I can see some things in some pictographs that people with less of an astronomical backgroud would have to have pointed out to them. I gladly do so since it helps us to understand what the artists were trying to convey.

Other Significant Pictographs

There is another painting I am helping to decipher and it shows a healthy vigorous corn plant with ears and below it, a bright sun and a wilted corn plant. I have attributed this panel to refer to the Green corn moon and the ripe (or dry) corn moon, the moons of June and July, respectively. These were great celebrations among corn growing indians who planted the three sisters of Indian crops, corn, beans and squash. These paintings are a strong indicator that at least some of these Indians farmed at least some of the time. This would be very unusual for Texas Indians, most of whose territory could not support farming, hence their nomadic ways. However, all the nomads occasionally met with their related family groups at least once a year.

Some archeologists have said they didn't think there was a year round population here, only occasional nomadic Indians. I believe the evidence now shows that there was a permanent settlement here for at least a little while since we see pictographs depicting things at all times of year. It may be that there was a caretaker population here while numerous smaller family groups of nomads wandered the surrounding large area, perhaps meeting here in the springtime for trading and feasting and giving the young people an opportunity to meet someone to marry. Perhaps it was a place where several clans gathered. Perhaps here was where the medicine man/priest lived year round so everyone always knew where to find him.

Perhaps the pictograph area was a special place for religeous gatherings and communal crops grown in the area between to paintings and the river. I would speculate that the actual camping grounds would have been on the higher ground across the river where the people and their goods would be safe from flash flooding - that was the Indian way.

There are many, many more pictographs worth taking the time to look at, take pictures of and ponder over, all of them worth the trip, time and money. It's a great way go back a thousand years in time and to get away from the rat race for a while.

My thanks and sincere appreciation to Bill Yeates for his extensive work in putting together a professional presentation and delivering our paper to the Southwest Federation of Archeological Societies. He is the one to thank for digitizing my crudely drawn star charts. We're just getting started with this page. In the meantime - - :

Click here to see more pictures of the pictographs and get more information about Paint Rock

March 25, 2003
It's spring again and the wildflowers are everywhere on the ranch in dense clumps and in dazzling arrays of colors. Even Mother Nature celebrates my annual spring haircut. Because I work outside, I let my hair and beard grow long for warmth during the fall and winter and get sheared short in the spring since that's cooler. I play my Choctaw cedar flute at Lake Brownwood as a prelude to the Easter sunrise service every year and the mountain-man look kinda adds to the aura of the flute music drifting through the woods in the gray predawn. The incredibly rich and soothing flute music makes the long wait of the early arrivals go easier and I have received many compliments.

I also played the Choctaw cedar flute at the Winter Solstice of 2002 and Vernal Equinox of 2003 celebrations at the pictographs site at Paint Rock, Texas. Paint Rock is a place which many native peoples over the centuries have treated as a holy place and painted many symbols on the cliff walls above the banks of the Concho River. Observations have confirmed some of these rock paintings to accurately predict the solstices and equinoxes and some that appear to be astronomical/astrological sky charts as well.

Chiefs, Shamans and spiritual practicioners of several tribes still come here to this special place to perform their rituals, usually alone because it's not done for show, though sometimes one will chant his chant and make his offerings oblivious to the presence of others. Over the centuries, Paint Rock has been home to many different cultures and so no restrictions are placed on native religious ceremonies nor is any form of disrespect permitted.

Fred and Kay Campbell have done everything they could to preserve and protect this place and these rock paintings. They lead personally guided tours at $5 for adults and $3 for children but they encourage the observance of the solstices and equinixes; however, so there's no admission or other charges at all for the solstice and equinox celebrations. Call them at 1-(325) 732-4376 and make a reservation for a tour and plan to spend some quality time in a special peaceful place on the banks of the cool Concho river. You'll learn some things about the Indians who lived here long ago that will surprise you. Feel free to bring a picnic basket and leave nothing but footprints in the dust and take nothing but memories and photographs. You'll come away with a peaceful feeling that might even change your life.

I hope this does not sound like a commercial; it's not. Paint Rock is not for entertainment like a powwow, but is a special place where one can commune with nature and meditate in a place that lets you feel an uncommonly strong connectedness with Mother Earth and all her other children. It feels as if some part of the spirits of those who were here before are still here. It is an invitation to open the eyes and ears of your soul to hear the stories of those whose innumerable campfires dot the night sky and whose names can never be said again. One comes away with a feeling of spiritual fulfillment and personal contentment. There are some places that just seem to have some kind of spiritual electromagnetic attraction. This place is one and so is "the Garden of the Gods" rock formations in Colorado.

Elsewhere in the Great American Southwest...

A Thousand Years of Indian Pictographs and Petroglyphs of Kokopelli.

Petroglyph of Kokopelli

Petroglyph of Kokopelli.

Kokopelli in the Sky

Solving The Mystery of Kokopelli's Real Identity.

Finally, the Real Reason Kokopelli's Image Was All Over The American Southwest.
A New Look at an Old Mystery.

Click here to enjoy one minute of my Indian flute music while you read this page.

My fascination with the astronomical pictographs at Paint Rock, Texas, led me to look to other prehistoric sites for other pictographs and I was able to identify several sites whose pictographs/petroglyphs tell an astronomical story, at least in my opinion. I believe that once you finally recognize certain patterns, they are more easily recognizable in different contexts and what has eluded you before suddenly becomes clear. After seeing Dr. Bill Yeates' discoveries at Paint Rock and adding a few of my own, I have begun to look for obvious patterns in the sky and then trying to see the patterns through the eyes of someone who had never heard of Greek astronomy - looking beyond the familiar.

Knowing the old legends about Kokopelli, I was not really surprised one evening in 2004 on my birthday of March 25 when I was enjoying a clear sky and watching the Big Dipper in the Easterly sky. Suddenly a glimmer of recognition came and I realized I was looking at Kokopelli in the sky because in a single instant I was able to see a pattern in the stars around Ursa Major, Ursa Minor and Bootes forming a shape that looked like Kokopelli. Immediately, it dawned on me that he was a star formation, constellation or asterism, whatever one wants to call the shapes people see in the stars. Instantly, it all made sense as all the stories were about springtime and there was Kokopelli rising magnificently in the Northeastern sky, signalling that the time of planting was near.

I surmised that those stories were tied in with the astronomy of the ancients much in the same way as the Greek stories about the constellations they recognized were tied into their mythology. I believe it was the ancient ones' ways of passing on wisdom to the people. We might seek out a few more of the ancient legends and look to see whether they describe the shapes and patterns that can be seen in star groupings that are different than their Greek counterparts saw.

Kokopelli rising in the sky brought the fertility of spring with him with all its sights and smells. It was so obvious I wondered why I had not grasped it before. I do not think I have ever before had such a sudden realization and I wasn't even thinking about Kokopelli at the moment. It was as if I could suddenly see all the stars connected and I could clearly see Kokopelli in the shape they formed. I had always thought of Kokopelli as just another old Indian legend, but here he was, plainly in the sky looking down and playing his flute. I was stunned. I had no idea the legend was based on astronomy and knowing when to plant.

I have always enjoyed seeing caricatures of the character, Kokopelli, and reading some of Linda Lay-Schuler's books gave me a better background on the stories surrounding this character. Kokopelli was widely considered a God of Fertility who made the corn, beans and squash, the three sisters of prehistoric American gardening, grow. He also assured the fertility of the animals, whom the Indians generally respected as Mother Earth's other children, as well. Kokopelli made all the village women pregnant and assured the survival of the all.

Star chart showing stars involved in Kokopelli artwork.

One way to find Kokopelli in the sky. (In the Big Dipper and Bootes)

There are many images of Kokopelli and they take many forms and some face one direction and some face the other way. There are as many ways to draw Kokopelli as there are people who see him. The stars appear to rotate and face one way early in the evening and rotate around about 180 degrees or so before dawn. I will try to reproduce several of my drawings showing several different ways of portraying Kokopelli using slightly different arrangements of mostly the same stars.

Like other prehistoric asterisms I have seen among the ancient artworks, they are usually largeand take up all or parts of several of the old Greek constellations to make their figure. The constellations that make up the Kokopelli shape in the sky, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor and Bootes, mostly, are circumpolar constellations that can be seen most nights of the year but rise in different places and positions in different parts of the year so that the only time it can be seen rising upright in the NE is at Springtime. Therefore when Kokopelli was rising upright in the evening sky , it must be springtime because he can't be seen like that in the NE at that time of night any time of year but then. Neat, huh?

Star chart showing stars involved in Kokopelli artwork.

Another way to portray Kokopelli in the sky - Note the differences in his tunic. (In the Big Dipper and Bootes)

There were also stories that he was a trader from the Toltecs in Mexico (The hump on his back was supposed to be his trade goods in a backpack.) and that he was a traveler and a flute player whose music made everything fertile and receptive. Since constellations are travelers, too, it all falls in together. But nobody ever looked for or found him in the stars before - at least not since people have been writing books about him and other SW rock art figures, or if so, for some reasons they didn't mention it in their books. I have looked over many books about the prehistoric art of the SW and have not seen a single mention of Kokopelli being the Indian interpretation of the Big Dipper, so I have to assume this finding is new and previously unnoticed, except by the original artists. If you have found a previous mention of this, I would appreciate your letting me know the name of the publication and other information about it so I can get a copy.

Star chart showing stars involved in Kokopelli artwork.

A third way to portray Kokopelli in the sky - some images are drawn with a phallic symbol and while there other ways to portray it, this is one way.

My guess is that the medicine chiefs of the different tribes had slightly different ideas about which particular stars were involved and each taught their own ideas and etched them into the rocks or painted them as they indivually saw the pattern in the sky. The main thing was to know which general formation and when and where in the sky to look. That would explain the varied designs and artistic interpretations of Kokopelli.

Star chart showing stars involved in Kokopelli artwork.

A fourth way to portray Kokopelli in the sky - some images are drawn with a elongated curved body and while there other ways to portray it, this is one way. Note the Greek constellations are named in this picture.

This is just a initial announcement of this latest archeoastronomical finding and the article will be expanded as I get time to write more about this and other archeoastronomical artworks from the Anasazi and their successors I am presently working on. Much more will be written about Kokopelli and a few other pictographs and petroglyphs will be featured and discussed in these pages soon.

Kokopelli is arguably the most recognized symbol from SW native cultures. Even still for over 150 years now, millions of us have seen the images without realizing it was really an Indian constellation used to guide the people as to when to plant. Every gardener knows that when an unexpected late freeze hits it kills almost everything in the garden and you have to get some new seed and replant. These Indians only had one chance to plant and they had to get it right every year because there was no place else they could go to for more seed. Kokopelli was their friend.

Probably not surprisingly, the older pictographs and petroglyphs are of basically primative with poor image quality whereas images on pottery are much more sophisticated, particularly the more recent works. Some of the modern artistically creative images of Kokopelli are clever, with many different themes, all evoking admiration for the image and respect for the artist. Just about anything you can think of can be bought with a Kokopelli design or motif. The influences of modern art on Kokopelli are resulting in some fascinating works of art and jewelry and there's a lively trade going on all over the country in Kokopelli memorabelia. People everywhere have come to love this interesting little character. But until now, how many people thought of Kokopelli as an Indian Constellation heralding spring and the rebirth that comes with it?

I hope my use of the word Indian to describe these varied peoples, does not offend but I am proud to be part Indian, Choctaw. To me, growing up among many different tribal people and part bloods, as most "whites" were at that time in Oklahoma, the word Indian was always a good word and evoked visions of very special people who knew things about nature the others didn't and who possessed great skills that allowed them to thrive where others failed. To me the word Indian is preferrable to indigenous persons or natives or aborigines or whatever politically correct but impersonal, neutralizing, name anyone wishes to use and I am rightly proud of my Indian heritage and yes, I know both Choctaw and Cherokee history. Indian is only a bad word if you see it as bad, I see it as a good word, even if it is utterly inaccurate as none of these people had ever been to the East Indies or India. I prefer to refer to an individual's tribe, such as Cherokee or Ute or whatever, but when dealing with widely distributed tribes, the word Indians is fine with me and if any take it the wrong way, I'm sorry, but maybe they need to loosen up a little and enjoy life more.

This is just a preliminary webpage that I'm piggy-backing on my Paint Rock page to give it a temporary home and using it to announce my little discovery while I'm in the process of putting together a more fitting tribute to our flute playing friend from the past. How old is the Kokopelli legend? Some say it's over a thousand and some say two thousand; I don't know but if we can examine the known information about all of the places where his image appears and get dates from as many of the sites as possible, that should give us a range with the inception of the legend at the earliest dated site.

Bob Phillips' Texas Country Reporter did a story on me and the garlic for their long running TV program -
click here to see the 6:28 video on youtube:

Picture of the Garlicmeister playing his Indian flute.

Bob Anderson
Garlicmeister, a self-inflicted title for amusement only.
Photo courtesy of Bill Yeates.

[ Our Home Page ] [ Online Catalog ] [ Garlic Overview ] [ 40 Varieties ] [ Growing Garlic ] [ Cooking with Garlic ] [ Chemistry of Garlic ] [ Garlic Pills & Oils, Etc. ] [ Health Benefits ] [ Links ] [ FAQ's ] [ How to Order ]

[ Sampler Assortments ] [ Pickle & Preserve Garlic ] [ Artichoke (Softneck) Garlics ] [ Asiatic Garlics ] [ Creole Garlics ] [ Porcelain Garlics ] [ Purple Stripe Garlics ] [ Rocambole Garlics ] [ Silverskin (Softneck) Garlics ]

[ Pickled Snacks ] [ Growing Garlic in the South, California & Texas ] [ Tour our Garlic Garden ] [ Paint Rock Pictographs ] [ Newsletter ] [ Garlic is Life Symposia ] [ Good Growers Wanted ] [ About Us ] [ About Our Place ]

Our site is always under construction. - This page last updated February 24, 2010.

If you would like to communicate with us, please send email to:

This page has been accessed over two thousand times since February 21, 2005 - Thanks, I know you would have gotten here sooner if you could have.