Saturday, October 30, 2010

Legendary Aztec images of warrior Popocatépetl and princess Iztaccíhuatl:

With all my Dia de los Muertos events and open studios happening in October, it was difficult to find the time to post anything new in my Etsy Store. Well the whirlwind has eased up a bit and I finally have some computer time to post new work.

The new work is of two upcycled wooden trays. Both have images of the Aztec star crossed lovers Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl. There are many interpretations of this legend but I decided to post the one listed from Mexico Online: http://www.mexonline.com/history-popo.htm.

The Legend of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl

On a clear day, the towering white peaks of the legendary Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes can be seen from the great metropolis of Mexico City. Rising beyond 17,000 feet in elevation, these two majestic mountains offer the viewer a breathtaking sight. Snowcapped year round, the well-known landmarks have captured people’s imaginations throughout the ages. Located just 45 miles southeast of the nation’s capital, Popo and Izta, as many affectionately call these two volcanoes, share a story that reaches back into the mists of time.

Geographically, these two glacier-iced volcanoes represent the second and third highest mountains in Mexico. The name Iztaccíhuatl in the indigenous Nahuatl language means “White Woman” and the mountain actually includes four peaks, the tallest of which reaches 17,158 feet. Many see her silhouette as resembling that of a sleeping woman, complete with head, chest, knees and feet. Iztaccíhuatl is an extinct volcano and is a popular destination for adventurous mountaineers and hikers.

The Sleeping Woman, Popocatepetl

The sleeping woman - Artist Jesus Helguera

Popocatépetl is the taller of the two mountains, reaching an incredible 17,802 feet in height. Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl are connected by a high mountain pass known as the Paso de Cortés. Popocatépetl is still active with the volcano having spewed smoke and ash as recently as 2001. In the Náhuatl language Popocatépetl means “Smoking Mountain” and as we shall soon see, was aptly named.

In Aztec mythology, the volcanoes were once humans who were deeply in love. This legend features two star-crossed lovers, the young brave warrior Popocatépetl and the beautiful princess Iztaccíhuatl. The father of Iztaccíhuatl, a mighty ruler, placed a demanding condition upon Popocatépetl before he could take Iztaccíhuatl as his bride. His mandate required that Popocatépetl first engage in battle against the tribe’s enemy and return victorious. Variations of the legend include the added stipulation that Popocatépetl needed to return with the vanquished enemy’s head as proof of his success.

Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetlthe

Iztaccíhuatl and prince Popocatépetl - Artist Jesus Helguera

The story continues with Popocatépetl setting off for battle with Iztaccíhuatl waiting for her beloved’s return. Treacherously, a rival of Popocatépetl’s sends a false message back to the ruler that the warrior has been slain when in fact, Popocatépetl has won the battle and is ready to return to his Iztaccíhuatl. However, the princess upon hearing the false news, falls ill and succumbs to her deep sorrow, dying of a broken heart. When Popocatépetl returns triumphant to his people only to encounter his beloved’s death, his heartbreak is inconsolable.

He carries Iztaccíhuatl's body to the mountains whereupon he has a funeral pyre built for both himself and his princess. Grief-stricken beyond measure, Popocatépetl dies next to his beloved. The Gods, touched by the lover’s plight, turn the humans into mountains, so that they may finally be together. They remain so to this day with Popocatépetl residing over his princess Iztaccíhuatl, while she lay asleep. On occasion, Popo will spew ash, reminding those watching that he is always in attendance, that he will never leave the side of his beloved Izta.

1 comment:

  1. Great story! Popo and Izta are some of my favorite attractions around Mexico City