A blog about the arts, books, flora and fauna, vittles, and whatever comes to mind!

Note: Comments are moderated. If you include a link, your comment will not be published. As you will note, I do not accept ads on my website and that includes in comments.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Eye of God

Quernado Mountain in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
Image courtesy Anaroza/Wikipedia.

The Huichol peoples of western Mexico are well-known for their folk art.  When the Spanish conquistadores came across them they adopted one of their crafts, which the Huichol called Sikuli.  Sikuli stands for the concept of viewing and comprehending that which is unknown and unknowable.  What we might call the mystery of the divine.

This one made of Caron yarn.

In Spanish, these art pieces are known as Ojo de Dios, or the eye of God.  They are ritual tools of a culture with deep spiritual beliefs.  The Huichol use peyote to enhance their spiritual experiences but not in a light way.  One has to be instructed and qualified not only to use it, but to even collect it.  They consider peyote a gift from the Gods, and it is revered.

The Ojo de Dios is woven, generally square in shape, made of yarn woven onto a cross of wooden sticks.  The yarn is handspun and dyed with various types of berries, flowers, and other natural materials.  Original ones are very rare, but many are made for the tourist market.  These, of course, do not carry the same spiritual significance.

These were made by schoolchildren.

The originals are focal points which are used to concentrate energy.  They are also one of the objects known as a nierika, which comes from the root word nieriya, to see.  Thus it is a picture or appearance, a sacred representation.  A nierika is a metaphysical vision, an aspect of a god or an ancestor.  Natives who received guidance from a god or ancestor who appeared before them saw visions so intense and overwhelming that only the eye could be seen.  It is a representation of that eye that is created on an Ojo de Dios.

Image courtesy of craftypod, which has instructions for making them.

They also functioned as metaphoric shields, protecting against distractions or temptations along the spiritual path.  They additionally are portals that facilitate the entry into other states of consciousness or the spiritual world.  Portals that allow humans and gods or ancestors to perceive each other.

A specific type of Ojo de Dios is crafted to protect children.  When a child is born, the central eye is woven by the father.  Each year, for five years, it is added to.  This object is well-guarded throughout the person's life and functions as a talisman of spiritual protection and well-being.  It may be used by the person his/herself or by a shaman for healing or other rituals.

The four points represent the elements:  earth, fire, air, and water.  There is a significance to the color of yarns used in traditional ones.  Red is for life; yellow for the heavens; blue is both sky and water; brown signifies the soil of the earth; green stands for vegetation; and black means death.

Image courtesy of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library.

Today they are meant as talismans of good luck and protection, and their use has spread all over the world.  Since modern ones are inexpensively and easily made, they are a favorite classroom project.  An ancient art, modernized by interaction with the outside world, what Ojo de Dios has lost in intrinsic meaning it has gained in popularity.


No comments:

Post a Comment