Latin America

Painting on tin

San Pascualito Tin Painting

San Pascualito Tin Painting

The painting on tin in the upper right corner of the second case also records a prayer of thanks. The woman holding a baby in her kitchen thanks San Pascualito for saving her baby from harm when a pot of hot mole (chocolate sauce) fell off the stove.

Molinillos

Wooden Molinillos

Wooden Molinillos

We owe chocolate to the Aztecs and the Spaniards who brought this exotic discovery back to Europe from Mexico. The bright yellow box (upper right) contains the spiced chocolate that is melted into hot milk to make hot chocolate. Two wooden molinillos, one of them ornately carved, look like rattles but are actually whisks for creating the froth on the drink. They are rotated between the palms. Imagine cleaning them afterwards!

Vejigante

Puerto Rican Vejigante

Puerto Rican Vejigante

The Vejigante has been part of carnival celebrations in Puerto Rico for hundreds of years. Each Carnival on the island has its particular Vejigante character. Ponce’s Vejigantes are tricksters. They wear these colorful masks and costumes made from scraps of fabric that look like “a clown suit with a cape and bat wings under the arms.” The name comes from vejiga, Spanish for “bladder”: the Vejigantes carry inflated cow’s bladders painted to look like a balloon (today they often use real balloons!) and chase children with the vejigas. The Vejigante blends Spanish, African and Caribbean influences — he appears in Don Quixote, written in 1605!

Quechuan Hat

Quechuan Hat

Quechuan Hat

What does the decoration on top of this wool hat suggest to you? This Quechuan hat represents the sun, a deity in the Incan religion. It plays an important role in the annual Inti Raimi festival in Cuzco, Peru. Inti Raimi takes place at the winter solstice, before the planting season begins. People gather in a large circle and a priest throws this hat high in the air. All watch to see how it lands. If it lands “sunny side up”, this augurs well for the harvest in the coming year. However, if the hat lands with the sun facing down, farmers may have a poor growing season. This is a caution for the people to consume wisely, and also to treat each other well, as their behavior will influence the gods that control the weather.

Bottle Cap Rattlesnake

Bottle Cap Rattlesnake

Bottle Cap Rattlesnake

A bottle cap rattlesnake smoking a cigarette looks at you as you walk into our back hallway from the tall, narrow case on your left. An example of the folk artist’s humor and use of recycled materials, e comes from the American Southwest.

La Virgen de Guadalupe

La Virgen de Guadalupe

La Virgen de Guadalupe

Behind the skeletons a turtle holds the Virgin of Guadalupe on its back. La Virgen de Guadalupe is beloved throughout Latin America and in North American Hispanic communities. She appeared four times in December, 1531 to the Christianized Aztec Juan Diego. The Catholic bishop of Tenochtitlán was finally convinced of the miracle, and the great Basilica of Guadalupe was built on the spot indicated by the Virgin, the site of an ancient temple to the Aztecan goddess Tonantzin. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of Mexican and Indian peoples and is prayed to for protection from all misfortune and evil, in times of illness and war.

Seguro Espiritual

Seguro Espiritual

Seguro Espiritual

The metal piece titled Seguro Espiritual or “Spiritual Help” in the top left corner of the first case features seven saints to whom one might pray in different circumstances. S. Antonio helps you find a mate. He is shown upside down as he was crucified upside down. S. Martin Caballero assists with business matters and S. Pedro with travel. S. Ramón protects you against gossip. S. Ignacio Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Order, guards your house, and S. Judas helps in “desperate cases”. We pray to the Virgin of Guadalupe “in all circumstances”.

Milagros

Milagros

Milagros

The small wooden cross on the second shelf down is adorned with milagros or “miracles”. Milagros are votive offerings given as a prayer or as thanks for an answered prayer. They take many forms in different cultures. These small tin figures represent the nature of the prayer: if asking for a cure from heart disease, you might leave a tin heart at a shrine or altar.

Priestess of Santería

Cuban Priestess of Santeria

Cuban Priestess of Santerìa

A Cuban priestess of santería, an Afro-Cuban religion still practiced in Cuba. She is always dressed in white.

Amazonian Shipibo figures

Amazonian Shipibo Figures

Amazonian Shipibo Figures

The Shipibo people live in the rain forests of Peru’s upper Amazon, where the pink dolphin swims. They have a deep knowledge of the forest and its healing herbs. The two Shipibo figures are wearing bark cloth garments decorated with patterns similar to their body tattoos.

Shipibo God’s Eye

Shipibo Gods Eye

Shipibo God’s Eye

The god’s eye from the Shipibo offers protection to a new baby or a sick person inside the house. The sharp end is not a spear — it allows the homeowner to plant the God’s eye firmly in the dirt. Not only does the God’s eye ward off evil spirits, it also notifies a visitor that someone inside is in delicate health. Perhaps a visitor with a bad cold will not drop in on a mother with a newborn. Does this sound familiar?!