Saturday, August 20, 2005

"Her Clothing Appeared Like the Sun"

I just finished Virgil Elizondo's inspring book, Guadalupe: Mother of the New Creation. It's a combination of a meditation on the Virgin of Guadalupe, and a discussion of the forced Christianization of Mexico after its bloody conquest by Spain in the 1500s. During this period of violent loss by the native peoples of the continent, the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego, an Indian of low social status, and spoke to him as an equal in his own language (Nahuatl). Elizondo provides a new English translation of the Nican Mopohua, the narrative of her apparitions, a poetic and mystical text, and he interprets the native imagery in the account, and in the iconography of the Virgin herself. In one of my favorite passages of the Nican Mopohua, the Virgin asks Juan Diego: “Am I not here, your mother? Are you not under my shadow and my protection? Am I not your source of life? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle where I cross my arms?” (Elizondo, 16)

In the Nican Mopohua the description of the place where the Virgin appears is equally poetic: “When he arrived in her presence, he marveled at her perfect beauty. Her clothing appeared like the sun, and it gave forth rays. And the rock and the cliffs where she was standing… appeared like precious emeralds, appeared like jewels….The mesquites, the cacti, and the weeds and the stems all looked like turquoise; the branches, the foliage, and even the thorns sparkled like gold.” (7)

Elizondo speaks of the Virgin as an egalitarian figure who recognizes the humanity of all of us regardless of status. He says her image …”is her living presence….In her eyes, we find recognition, acceptance, respect and confidence.” (135)

I’m finding that as I create this quilt that I want to render this aura of loving acceptance and of dignity.


Rian said...

This is very interesting history. Kudos to you for reading further on the Lady of Guadalupe. I know this will give you a greater appreciation for this figure which will impart a deeper meaning into your work. Do we call this figure a Madonna? Or is Madonna a generic name or concept as depicted in Italian Renaissance pieces? (I did a search on madonna, but all the links pointed to that other Madonna.)

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