We changed lockdown location for Christmas. Rented a house South of Mexico city, outside a little town called Tepoztlán. 500 metres below Mexico city. Much warmer. We spent a week with a view on the sacred mountains and escaped once on the 25th for a Street Art safari. Duly masked, early morning to avoid crowds. Here are 21 “easy pieces” for the first blog of the year.
The local artists have outdone themselves. Many themes. One recurring theme was the “Chinelos”. A traditional mask and costume used to dance in the streets of the state of Morelos. The name “Chinelo” comes from the Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs, still spoken today) word “tzineloa” which means “hip movements”. They do shake well.
Waterfall. The mountain at the end of town is called Tepozteco. There is a precolumbian temple at the top. Quite a steep hike up. In what, if I recall, is partly an old river bed.
Another Chinelo, with the Tepozteco mountain and temple in the background… We climbed it a long time ago. Worth the hike. The beard, as many traditional masks in Mexico is a reference to the Spaniards.
Colonial church in Tepoztlán. 16th century. The sacred mountain of the Tepozteco to the left. One of many recurring ants bottom right. Why ants? Another theme? (Need a grant for more research)
“In Tepoztlán, we want to be alive, free and without fear.” Another theme linked to either feminicides or LGBTQ or both. A shocking issue in Mexico and Latin America.
Yet another Chinelo on the wall. This is somewhat new in Tepoztlán. I don’t recall so much presence before. The costumes are extremely elaborate. Black velvet robes. Masks and hats.
Chinelo dancer by the church. Poor guy must have been cooking. We see them on the street a block away from our house in Mexico city. They parade a few times a year. I’ve featured Chinelos before. Can’t find the post though…
“To kill a humming-bird.” (Another frequent theme: birds)
Xoloitzcuintle. The Mexican hairless dog. The Aztecs bred them to eat… (gross, I know). Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo had several. They are still very popular. Not for eatin’ no more, no, ma’an. Good dogs, but delicate: their absence of hair makes them very susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer.
Siesta time. Around 11AM. The mural says “lactancia materna”, to promote breast feeding. Artist: Oveja prieta (Blacksheep) Ayala. There are hundreds of works of artists on the walls. All very good.
Hotel Sierra central. Made me think of Bogart’s “High sierra”. Most hotels were open. So much for distanciation.
Artist: Facte. S/he has done many murals in “Tepoz”. I am a bit at a loss for a caption here. The portrait is of a typical countryside woman. Mixed with flowers and growing branches… One the themes I have noted in several murals, was growth of trees, plants, corn, which is very important in precolumbian cultures. The fundamental food staple, equivalent to bread in Europe, or rice in Asia.
The magic mountain? (Shades of Thomas Mann?) Flying beetle is a collective that has painted many murals in “Tepoz”. Very neat. Will be featured again.
The flute player. A fantastic portrait of an old man from the sierra. (Such a variety of styles and talents, right?)
“Girl with dog” by the Compañía muralista (Muralist company). Traditional Mexican themes of Death and the Day of the Dead.
“I’m late, I’m late, said the Rabbit.”
Amazon riding a zebra. Combined with the figure of the snake and the cactus. Two of the three elements of the coat of arms of Mexico. Flying beetle again.
Quetzal bird. The symbol of Guatemala today, it was the sacred bird of the Mayas and the Aztecs. Its name figures in “Quetzal-coatl”, the feathered serpent God. (Called Kukulcan by the Maya)
Ixchel, the Goddess of the moon. Or the Lady (Ix) of the Rainbow (chel). She can be associated with both the destruction of the world, and fertility and motherhood. She is said to have invented weaving, another very important activity in precolumbian America. In Chiapas and Guatemala, some women still weave their own clothes. Ixchel is still used as a first name.
As more and more people went out on the streets, we thanked our guides (above) and left. Back to lockdown. (To be continued…)
21 “easy pieces” of street art to start the year. Captain and crew wish y’all a happy 2021. At any rate, better than 2020, which should not be too hard. To-day, January 5th, I have “Georgia on my mind”. Looking forward to the 20th of January. Stay safe.