Size: 130x200cm; 4.2x6.5ft
Master weaver: Clemente Mendoza, 84 years old.
Materials ans methods: criollo sheep wool hand dyed with colorfast aniline dyes using an exhaustive method. Handwoven on a Zapotec style loom of the 16th century adapted from European styles. Woven using a 7 threads per inch reed.
Design, patterns and symbols.
This design was originally passed on to Don Clemente by the Montaño family who would comission rugs from him. The central pattern represents a turtle to evoke the ancient myths of creation where a giant turtle carries the sea ringed world (Cem Anahuac) on its back as it swims across Niss daou (the great waters of life). In the center of its back, this turtle has a dragon fly symbol that represents the purity of water and its healing properties.
Surrounding the great turtle there are diamonds made of the agave symbol to represent the resilience of life on earth. The Agave espadin is the most cultivated type of agave and it is actually blue, the interesting fact is that agaves have a system to collect humidity from the morning dew and in effect they are water storage plants with incredibly resilience to drought. Agaves have been dubbed the queen of plants in our culture because of the many gifts the offer to humanity in exchange for caring for them. Agaves provided the very first fibers to make twine and ropes during the hunting gathering era; their hearts can be cooked to obtain edible healthy sugars; these sugars have been distilled into Mezcal for thousands of years to help elevate our consciousness into the spirit world.
Lastly, we have bicolored pyramids above the turtle that represent our journey and growth towards a more conscious way of life. Each side of the pyramid represents the tonal awareness (language-logic) and the nahual awareness (dreams-intuition) as stepping stones to build unity in our awareness between the needs of the eartly world and the pursuits of our spiritual journey.
The representations of agaves and turtles was very common in the ancient times because both represent the connection between heaven and earth; the turtle's shell represents the sky dome while its belly represents the earth from which it emerges. The agave unites heaven and earth as it grows the Quiote (a large stalk) where it produces seeds and seddlings; the quiote grows quite quickly during the end of life of the agave; one can literally watch it grow towards the sky. These ideas are interwoven in music; the turtle shell is often played along drums made with wood from quiotes and there are even recent replicas of "Mayan trumpets" made with Quiotes that function in a similar way to a didgeridoo.