Folklore and Myth Thursday – Week 11 – K

Welcome to week 11 of the Folklore and Myth Thursday posts. If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, be sure to follow the link at the end of this post, where I’ve also included some links to another great folklore website.

This week I’ll be looking at Kokopeli, Ka, Kachina, Kalkin, Karashishi, Khnum, and Kurma.


“Kokopeli, in Hopi Indian, means ‘wooden backed’” (Nozedar, 2010:104). The figure, which has antlers and carries a flute, appears in pre-historic rock carvings and is believed to be a fertility symbol (Nozedar, 2010:104). Nozedar (2010:104) also adds that “Kokopeli represents the essence of the creative force, whatever form it mat take”. He also represents the end of winter and the “coming of spring, hope, and new life” (Nozedar, 2010:104). See also Nozedar (2010:104) for some of the Kokopeli legends.


“In Egyptian belief, the soul or spirit of an individual after death. Life-like funerary statues were believed to embody the ka of the person whom they represented” (Tresidder, 2004:270).


Returning to Native American mythology, Tresidder (2004:270) notes that the Kachina are “[one] of a class of ancestral spirits, according to the Pueblo Native American peoples of the southwestern United States, such as the Hopi and Zuni”. THe Kachinas act and are revered “as intemediaries between humans and the great elemental gods” (Tresidder, 2004:270). Kachinas are also bringers of harmony and prosperity (Tresidder, 2004:270).

Kachina doll.JPG
By GromboOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link


Kurma, a tortoise, is the second avatar or incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu (Tresidder, 2004:277). “Kurma supported Mount Mandara on his back during the churning of the ocean by the Devas and Asuras” (Tresidder, 2004:277). See also this post for more about this myth.


Kalkin is “the future tenth avatar… of the Hindu god Vishnu” (Tresidder, 2004:271). Kalkin, Tresidder (2004:271) notes, is a messianic figure whose “advent will herald the end of the present cosmic age of evil, the Kali Yuga, and the beginning of a new golden age, or Krita Yuga”. Kalkin will appear as a warrior on a white horse (Tresidder, 2004:271), although Tresidder also notes that, according to a South Indian popular belief, “Kalkin will manifest as the horse itself”.


The Karashishi are symbols of strength and courage (Tresidder, 2004:271). These chow-faced “lions” (Tresidder, 2004:271) guard Buddhist temples in Japan. Tresidder (2004:271) also notes: “[the] male has his mouth open, but is not terrifying”. They are called the “Dogs of Fo [Buddha]” (Tresidder, 2004:271) and the “stylized form is based on second-hand Chinese contact with the lion”.


Khnum is one of four “principal creator gods of Egypt” (Tresidder, 2004:272); the other gods being Amun-Ra, Atum and Ptah (see also Tresidder, 2004:272). Khnum is normally depicted as a man with the head of a ram, which is not only his sacred animal, but also a symbol of male creative power (see Tresidder, 2004:272).

“Khum was envisaged as a potter who moulded deities, humans and animals from clay on his potter’s wheel, and then breathed life into them… Khum was believed to control the rising of the waters of the Nile, an annual phenomenon crucial to the fertility of the land” (Tresidder, 2004:272).

Cnouphis-Nilus (Jupiter-Nilus, Dieu Nil), N372.2.jpg
By Jean-François Champollion – Brooklyn Museum, No restrictions, Link

The official #FolkloreThursday site can be read over here and remember to follow the Twitter conversation using the #FolkloreThursday tag.

To read the previous entries in this blogpost series, follow this link. 

By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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