This piece was created in response to a trip to Guatemala dealing specifically with knowledge and education in the present day Mayan Highland Communities. The structure reflects Mayan history as well as cosmology. I created these altered book forms as a symbolic reference to the books of the Mayan people that were burned during the 16th Century Spanish Conquest of the Americas. All but 4 of the original Mayan writings were destroyed.
The main tree form is a reference to the axis mundi, which for the Mayan people connected the underworld to the celestial world through a human conduit. The axis mundi was most commonly referenced in relation to the ritual of bloodletting. Mayan rulers let blood from their body onto pieces of paper that were then burned as part of a ceremony connecting them to ancestral spirits. The smoke rising from the burned blood stained pages formed vision serpents. These smoking forms were believed to be a physical connection to the gods that ruled over the Mayan Cosmos. I have created this piece to symbolically reference this process.
This structure was created to connect Classical Mayan rituals to modern function and traditions. Traditional hand-dyed fibers are used to hold the root forms together. The patterns that are created by the knots binding the roots make reference to the jaspe technique used by indigenous people from this region. The knot designs are a complex formula of positive and negative spaces dyed into threads that come together when woven through a loom to form intricate patterns with detailed figurative imagery. These formulas have been passed down from one generation to another through an oral tradition within family and community groups.
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