In my ongoing appreciation of the Popol huh Creation myth, I am increasingly aware of the similarities between the imagery of the Roman Catholic faith and that of the indigenous people of Mexico. It is of little surprise that conversion to the new faith met surprisingly little resistance- bloodbaths aside of course. In many ways it was picking up one mantle for another. Such is the case with this recent watercolor (finished last evening).
The Sacred Heart of Hun Hunahpu
Briefly, according to the Popol huh, Hun Hunahpu, the Maize God and his brother Vucub Hunahpu descend to the Underworld. There faced with the duplicitous Lords of Xibalba pitifully fail challenge after challenge. The price for there failure is sacrifice, ritually depicted here as a horizontal gash to the chest with the still living heart removed. Hun faces further humiliation in having his head removed and placed in a fruit laden tree. This tree with its ghoulish bauble attracts the attention of Xquic a goddess of the Underworld. Approaching the head, Hun spits into her hand impregnating her. The result of this union being the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xblanque ( depicted in an earlier post). The Hero Twins will go on to avenge their father’s sacrifice.
One can easily see similarities between the two great religious traditions, Virgin births, Sacrificial Saviors, Sacred Hearts, even severed heads reminiscent of John , reminding one of the Messiah’s arrival.
Difficult for this floundering Catholic to not be drawn to the material.
detail of Hun Hunahpu
This is an image of the Maize God in the throes of defeat AND impregnating the Xibalba princess Xquic. Delacroix and Blake being obvious influences.
detail of the Lord of Xibalba and the Princess Xquic
In this detail I wanted to illustrate the life sustaining attributes of sacrifice, in this case the chest cavity opened and the still living heart seized upon by the greedy Underworld Lord. The blood of the young virile Maize God acting as a cosmic Viagra for the craven demon-god. And yes I am well aware that my depiction is juvenile and bit titillating, I promise I WILL mature, but later. His daughter clutches the Heroic Heirs close to her breast, out of the reach of her sinister father. She will soon enough be banished, but that is another tale…
Until that time,
5 thoughts on “The Sacred Heart of Hun Hunahpu”
This is really something, Leonard. Amazing! Thanks so much for sharing it.
Thank you Thom, I know your taste, I admire your taste, I am thrilled you like it. It is my second stab at watercolor, a funny medium, I see why the English are mad for it.
Very striking Leonard. You’re clearly enjoying a fantastically fertile patch of creativity. Blake is a good comparison/ref. He too ploughed his own furrow, developing an iconography and style that was unlike anything else on show at that time. You have a rich knowledge of art history, but I love that you are creating something that while referencing the past, nevertheless is entirely, uniquely your own!
Thank you, I confess Blake is a new love for me. This new affection is partly due to his own struggles, his spirituality and his very singular vision. He worked with what he had, untrained and created something distinctly Blake-ian. I really came to appreciate him because of the Huntington Library in Pasadena ( close to LA), they have tremendous holdings on paper, much devoted to Blake. In fact the library and galleries are a treasure trove of Anglo culture. Thanks for the kind words, I agree the engine has kicked in…