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.
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.
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.
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,