As the year winds down I am trying to complete a few last paintings.
This painting The Virgin Birth of Huitzilopochtli I finished last evening. A few little tweaks here and there, but it is complete…for now. This has been an aesthetic experiment and it has been a difficult birth (cheap pun, forgive me).
After departing Tenochtitlan I have been inspired by the geometric forms of Aztec visual expression. How in spite of their often fearsome appearance,I sense the humanity, the complexities of this culture. Even this narrative, the virgin birth of their most revered god, the fire/war god Huitzilopochtli (Tlaloc, the rain god a close second), which has obvious similarities to the Christian salvation narrative is imbued with both violence and tenderness.
The great goddess Coatlicue , She of the Skirt of Serpents, is miraculously with child, this new violent god who will bring the people wealth through tribute . His siblings the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui and her fellow siblings the Centzonhuitznahuah are full of rage at the dishonor such a claim makes. A virgin birth, through a stray feather is as absurd as a teenage Hebrew girl chatting it up with the Angel of Yahwah. They set upon their wayward mother ready to tear her to pieces; miraculously Huitzilopochtli is born fully armed and prepared to smite the usurpers. The famous (and spectacular) Coatlicue Stone a striking indigenous illustration of the carnage.
The following is my own interpretation , imbuing the narrative with traditional nativity tenderness, let the blood-letting hold for the moment.
The Virgin Birth of Huitzilopochtli
oil on canvas
24 by 36 inches
I have placed the lunar goddess Coyolxauhqui in the upper right corner, her siblings the vengeful Centzonhuitznahuah sitting in judgement on the left; as a hint of hope the Plumed Serpent Quetzalcoatl splashes about awaiting his own return. For perspective , I have enclosed some traditional examples of this great pantheon:
Coatlicue-National Museum of Anthropology
Huitzilopochtli-not sure of source other than wikipedia.
I have more work ahead , but I was eager to finish this painting before my own celebration of that OTHER virgin birth.
Viva la Virgens!
Take care, Lg
5 thoughts on “Feliz Navidad”
I love the robe of moon and stars. The “skirt of serpents” is also another idea worth exploring. Glad to see you so inspired.
Yeah I love the serpent skirt as well, I wanted something more cosmic PLUS thus far, the serpent skirt has looked more macabre than powerful. Also I am influenced of course by western madonnas with their celestial garments of blue and red.
Next time!She is making a reappearance in another painting and i will have figured it out by then.
An extraordinary painting, a tour de force, but with that tenderness at it’s heart too, it’s gobsmacking really
I’ll take gobsmacking, thanks,
i love her robe of night sky and the red body of her child–what a fantastic pairing, and i’m so happy that you held off on the blood-letting 😀
the dragon behind is a fantastic detail, as are the chiseled bodies lined up waiting in the clouds. their faces are fascinating… wonderful!!