A Fateful Encounter @ the Axis Mundi

The Axis Mundi, also referred to as the World Tree, is according to legend found at the very center of the world.

For the Maya the Axis Mundi was the yaxché,the Ceiba tree which is the national tree of modern Guatemala. It is a spiny  tree of spare beauty, little foliage but gorgeous orchid like flowers. I know this tree well from my time living in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

According to the Popol huh,the head of the slain Maize God was placed upon the branches of the Calabash tree where it nestled in amongst the gourd-like fruit.

This maquette is my attempt at depicting the Axis Mundi, that fateful moment when the slain Hun Hunahpu meets and miraculously impregnates the Underworld princess Xquic.

The construction of the World Tree proved to be quite complicated, I had hoped to post it last evening but I was still snipping away; it “branches” out to almost 36 inches. But after using many brads I have put together the first tableau. 

Maize God ensnared within the Axis Mundi

Tradition has only the head of the Maize God placed upon the branches, but I chose the full figure ( at least for this composition). The visual reference to another slain Savior was too difficult to resist.

Fateful encounter at the Axis Mundi

Please pardon the terrible quality of the image, my I-phone is not the best tool for recording, but it is readily available. This image is of Xquic looking upon the Maize God.

Princess Xquic ensnared.

As I mentioned the Ceiba tree is considered to be the inspiration for the World Tree. It is a beautiful tree, one I would love to illustrate, but I chose an abstract tree, all prickly spines and entrapment for the very reason that I want to avoid just illustrating the tale. I would be a very happy camper to create a botanical drawing of the tree but the Popol vuh  is a cosmic tale and I wanted to represent that sense of timelessness.

I will soon begin a painting (deciding upon medium) , I will also continue to create a few more figures ( I want to rework the owls for instance); but creating this tableau is satisfying.

Until next time,

take care,


Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

10 thoughts on “A Fateful Encounter @ the Axis Mundi”

    1. Thank you, at times I feel as if I am playing with paper dolls ( at least according to my mother-in-law), but I am excited by the compositional possibilities.

  1. Oh my goodness! This project is assuming epic proportions. I can see the potential for compositions in every corner. Fantastic.

    A suggestion. Don’t do your painting directly from the maquettes. Go through another stage. Use them to make lots of sketches. Produce a whole heap of them, and keep them brief. frequently change the maquette positions. Use them to thoroughly explore your compositional options. Take various approaches. This is where maquettes really come into their own. You’ve done all the hard creative labour of making them. Now let them do their jobs of helping you to find many solutions to what you’re striving for. The more satisfactory sketches you can summon, the more likelihood that this will be a subject properly explored. That’s why I work in series. Not one Kevin and the Blackbird composition, but painting after painting after painting. It’s because I let the maquettes liberate the heart of the story, and the compositional devices inherent in it.

    1. Hello,
      Yes, I will certainly follow your advice, I am at this point just trying to figure out horizontal or vertical format, leaning towards vertical, playing upon the Deposition. But yes, I will work it out with multiple sketches, that is my practice, but never before with such helpful aids. Will probably employ watercolor to speed along color composition. I am leaning towards blue/turqouise and orange , seems chilly and unearthly. I have never worked with a series- I have never had that luxury- but I plan to fully explore this theme.
      Today I painted, a great treat, but monday I will return to working out the composition.
      Thank you my friend and my mentor,

  2. Oh my! So many wonderful maquettes to see since my last visit! What a wonderful, overwhelming splendour of gods, demons, and owls!! These are all just brilliant.

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