The here and now... and what and why

Complacency is a trap. At least that’s what I was thinking when I up and left the comfort of a Yankee prep school gig, where I taught music, amongst other things, for 28 years. There was also that life long career as a composer, musician and artist.

First, it was a year in St. Thomas, USVI, working as a reporter and shooting photography and then, a year in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Time passed.
More time passed and a year back in the Athens of America followed by a hasty return to Oaxaca where it is all happening.
A couple of years in San Sebastian Etla and now, just down the road in San Pablo Etla. Life is good.

Click on an image to see it larger.
For additional photography please visit my flickr page.
You can find my music on Jango (World & latin - Worldbeat) and at iTunes and most online stores.
¡Soy consciente de todas las tradiciones del Internet!
If you are coming to Oaxaca, please contact me for tours or advice.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo
The view from Corazon del Pueblo

The hereafter re me

My photo
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Musician, photographer, videographer, reporter, ex-officio teacher, now attempting to be a world traveler

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Speaking of bigheads

For us, as we walked in a light drizzle through the Parque La Venta in Villahermosa, it was our first rain and humidity in months. So it was already surreal and then there were the nine-foot helmeted heads with curious facial features.

That was then, this is now.

In Mexico South, I keep reading about these ancient cultures and realize how lucky I am to be in one of the birthplaces of world cultures. Everywhere I turn there is some archaeological or significant anthropological aspect.

The more I learn, the more I learn how much more I have to learn.

Now, I am trying to learn a bit more about the Olmecs, after driving through the heart of Olmec country on the recent trip. Actually, Olmec is not the name of the people, it is a catchall for the culture that existed between 1200BC and 400BC, in part, on the isthmus of Tehuantepec and in Veracruz, Tabasco, Oaxaca and Campeche.

The word “olmec” means “rubber gatherers” as there were/are many rubber trees in the area. They used that rubber to make balls and they invented the “ballgame” that became such an important part of so many cultures. This is a cool site about the game.

Incidentally, I have played a version of the ballgame in Arrozola. Imagine a superball just a bit smaller than a bowling ball. The players wore gloves made of bull’s skull to protect the hands. Man, that ball could sail.

The Olmecs are considered to be the mother of all Mesoamerican cultures. They are believed to be the first western culture to develop writing. They employed the use of zero and invented the long calendar that was used by so many pre-Columbian cultures.

Amazing to think that they existed 3500 years ago.
Here is one of the famous large stone helmeted heads (9ft), which are notable not only for their size, but also for the fact that the stone had to be transported very long distances from its source. Experts believe they were brought on boats, which. when one considers the size and weight of these stones, was an amazing achievement.
The Olmecs believed that the jaguar was supernatural, an ancestor, a god. It is at the very core of their beliefs. There is some speculation that the upturned and pouting lips on the large head sculptures are representative of the jaguar. Olmec society was highly evolved with an integrated balance of art, religion and politics and the jaguar was central in all aspects and can be found throughout Olmec art, architecture and writings.
Check the links or as my Aunt Doris would say, “Better you should go.”
Typical Olmec house and see.. they are friendly. Come on down.


Nightreading said...

Great educational as well as artistic piece of information....just learning about how the civilized world developed in the Western hemisphere....Quite different form the Eastern one, for sure.

Nightreading said...

Have to admit my saying wrong about differences in arts in Western and Eastern hemispheres...

There is a quite similar sculpture in Storm King Art Center called Three Legged Buddha by Zhang Huan, the head is 8ft high...

So now I am confused who's civilization was ahead of one another.

Help, anyone?