The Transcendental Vision of Tatutsí Xuweri Timaiwe’eme (Our Great-Grandfather Who Was Self-Created and Found Knowing Everything)

"In the early times many things had to come out of Tatutsi Timaiweme (our Great-grandfather who was created and found knowing everything), so that this world could live from his memory, Life comes from there; it is in that way that we recognize the world."

When Xuweri Timaiweme was getting ready to have his memory/heart (iyari) materialize, he put Tatutsi Maxacuaxi (Our Great-grandfather Deer-tail) and Tatutsi Tawicuni (Our Great-grandfather with the split chest) in their places. He named Maxacuaxi as his urucuacame (the shaman who guides the pilgrimage carrying the sacred arrows), and he accomplished everything by means of his intercession. Maxacuaxi is the one who put Our Mothers, Tateteima, in Ixriiapa, the center of the earth.

Schematically the picture can be divided into three horizontal levels: (1) The lower, which comprises the primordial world and the eternal past; from left to right, the sea, Our Mother, is a large bird; fire, Our Grandfather, appears in the center of a white cloud of water vapor; Our Great-grandfather Deer-tail is the petrified support of this world; the sun, Our Father, is the bright object on the head of the man seen on top of a house in the terrestrial world, and in whose center there is a small pot which contains the seed of future life; and last, Our Great-grandfather Tatutsi Tawicuni, another support of the world, the sweet water that springs from the sacred caves. (2) The middle level corresponds to our earthly world, where first Our Great-grandfather Xuweri Timaiweme is shown as the head in the center, arising from the underworld. At the left, there is a large disk that is his vision of this underworld, with which he penetrates the darkness, the past, and all matter. This disk, or nierika, has a rotation similar to that of the hands of a clock. On the right there is another nierika whose rotation is in the opposite direction, and which reflects the celestial world, the purified soul of physical matter. Both disks symbolize the global vision of Xuweri Timaiweme, about which the life of the world evolves, (3) The upper level is the celestial one - where the Sun, Our Creator, is shown; our soul originates in heaven and the male and female spirits rise towards it,

Details: The central disk is Tatutsi Xuweri Timaiweme, the passive source of all things. At the left is his personified heart, Tatusi Maxacuaxi (with the blue face), who also is shown as one of Our Great­ grandfathers, the hidden pillars of the world (the figure without legs, flanked by deer tails, below on the left). Upon hearing Xumeri Timaiweme, he assumed his active personification. It was Maxacuaxi who opened the first road leading up to our world rather than have it formed along the ladder of his tail.

The lower middle of the panel represents the first world in whose womb (the bowl of the lower part) all things remained hidden like seeds kept within a gourd. The disk attached to the bowl is a tepari (stone disk) that represents the appearance of our own world. Tuamuxawi, the first farmer/cultivator (left of the bowl), was wandering about in this underworld until he met Takutsi Nakawé, Our Great-grandmother Growth (right of the bowl). It was she who caused the deluge and advised him that it was coming. Inside the house that is shown on the lower left of Tuamuxawi, is the infant who was the first woman on the earth, the little black bitch which Tuamuxawi took in his canoe to survive the flood. The blue serpent behind him is Kieraka, the road by which they escaped from
the flood - also accepted as the chest of Maxacuaxi, the ladder is his tail that is his intrinsic being.

Whatever they thought, Tatutsi Xuweri Timaiweme understood them, and they spoke in his heart. This was like a whirlpool that breathed, and Tuamuxawi saw a deer tail that spoke as follows: "Well, I am Tatutsi Maxacuaxi. Where do you come from? You are stepping on my chest! There, in the direction where there is light you must take all your seeds and make your home." The place where the light appeared was that of the first sunrise, the center of the earth where he had to dwell, in Tuamuxawita. Thereupon Tuamuxawi received the sacred tools, which he carried on his shoulder to this world. When the Sun rose, all the earth began to shake and to rumble.

Tatei Yurianaca (Our Mother Fertile Earth) is shown to the left of the smaller Maxacuaxi; she is shaped like foam settling on the urine of Xuweri Timaiweme. Her breasts are the sources of all water and of all fertility. One of her arms extends downward to the underworld, toward a small figure with a yellow flower on its head: it is the Fetal Sun. She said to him "you will have to walk over my soul, Taweviekame (Our Creator, the Sun), until you arrive at Wirikuta." He traveled along her other arm (the long road to the upper margin), and he stood up on top of the earth in Le-unaxu (inverted figure, upper margin to the left). Rays issue from his hair and he holds up the plumes, [arrow shafts), and deer tails of a shaman; on the right are three sacred petaguins [shaman's baskets] that contain his words deposited on the earth. Within his body there are votive bowls that turned into peyotes while he was traveling to Wirikuta.

In the upper left corner is Tatewarí (Our Grandfather Fire), the first shaman and guide of the pilgrimage, who lights the rising Sun. He is teaching the rituals of worshipping the Sun to the two figures who are holding up the sacred candles and who stand up on each side of a of tumari (unaged - a crude corn meal drink). They are Paritemai (Lord of the Dawn on the right) and Xurawetemai (Morning Star, on the left). Below and to the left of Tatewarí is Tamatsie Kauyumarie (Our Elder Brother the little Deer of the Sun, the blue deer head), the soul of Maxacuaxi. He has already been sacrificed at the rising of the sun. The serpents that come out of his head are his channels of communication: they travel in all directions, turning themselves into nierikate (like two faces) and peyote (on top of his head). The serpent--below him on the right--is entering the temple into which Maxacuaxi has changed; in this way Kauyumarie establishes contact with Xuweri Timaiweme.

Tuamuxawi reappears tied to the horns of Yurianaca, submerging himself in the white foam of the ocean in order to make contact with Tatei Hara'mara (Our Mother the Sea, the large form of a bird containing smaller figures). His road is the serpent who comes out of one deer tail below him. He is also the stooped figure in the left margin, seated among his temples and houses in Tuamuxawita.. He asks Hara'mara that his memory/heart may remain among the rocks where he has his cornfield (coamil). The squash flower over the rock symbolizes the growth of his corn patch on the hill. Tatei Hara'mara holds all the Mothers of the rain within her being, and all things return to her. She sacrificed herself so that her thoughts and memory could reach the nierika of Tatusima, Our Great-grandfathers (the yellow and purple disks). This nierika is the trap in which Our Elder Brothers, the first deer {who are seen below the nierika), were caught; their blood was received by Yurianaca. A serpent connects the horns of one of the deer to a hummingbird (tupina); the bird and the dewdrops above him represent the thoughts of Hara'mara.

Connected to the beak of Hara'mara is a black womb that contains Tatei Hautsi Cupuri (Our Mother, Soul of the Dew, mother of the waters of the north}, and within her body is Tatei Xapaviyeme (Our Mother of the Waters of the South) with her nierika. Behind her, the legs of fire point upward where she has a nierika between her feet; Tatewarí (Fire) is he who makes the water rise and turn into vapor (yellow dots). The blue­ faced figure (in the lower left corner) is the collective representation of Tatei Wiitari (Our Mother of the Rains). The sharp peak at the right of Hara'mara is the wind, Eacateiwari, who disperses the rains.

The arrows above Xuweri Timaiweme represent his thoughts, broken into specific entities upon becoming manifest upon the earth. Each Ancestor is contained within one of the arrows. The five arrows on the left represent the male Ancestors, Tamatsima, who became manifest in this world, and the five on the right represent Our female Ancestors, Tateteima. In the beginning they were pure spirits in Tatutsi Xuweri Timaiweme; later they became personified beings; at the end of their lives, they became petrified in the form of mountain peaks (between the legs of the male Ancestors); and finally, they became pure memory (rows of hearts) once again.

Our Ancestors emerged in Wirikuta, from the bell-shaped [flower] of Tatei Puguari, Our Mother Cempasuchil. The males appear below the flower as serpents*, the females, as peyote*
Puguari (marigold) is used in the ritual to sprinkle holy water: this first flower sprinkled their names over the Ancestors, baptizing them, before arriving at Tatei Puguari, Our Ancestors did not know their names or their arrows; they did not know cupuri, the soul, nor tucari, life. The first name was given where the flower grew in the dew that she spread. Muxa (the ewe) and guacaxi (the bull) are the sacrifices that are suitable to be offered to Our Mothers of the Rain, and their blood is received by Yurianaca, the land they walked on. The animals are shown at the feet of Yurianaca to one side and on top of the younger Maxacuaxi.

The rains fell into the lagoon (by way of the black arrow); they entered a box that was also the hollow chest of Tatutsi Tawicuni, Our Great-grandfather Split Chest (the large figure without legs al the right above the lower margin). His split chest is the central canyon of the Huichol territory, and all the other hollow places of the land. The plumed arrow, muvieri, connected at the lower center and which leads upward to the lagoon, is the shaft through which the waters flow from the underworld; it holds the words of the shaman takuatsi  [shaman's basket] connected with Xapaviyeme) of the sacred springs that gush from the earth. The insect below the arrow is a dematerialized rain spirit, which evaporates and returns to the underworld upon its death.

Tuamuxawi alighted in the lagoon of Xapaviyeme after the flood; he is shown walking on the path that leaves from the head of Xapaviyeme, looking for the point where perhaps he will live and leave his memory (the heart that issues from his mouth). His destination, Tuamuxawita, is the head that rises at the end of the path, communicating by means of his breath with the nierika of Tajeimi.The petaquins shaman's baskets] in Tuamuxawi's hand contain the words of Our Mothers, indicating their harmonious communion with the powers of the rain.

On his way, Tuamuxawi met Tatei Utuanaca (whom he encountered on the other side of Tuamuxawita); his daughter was Tatei Nuariwame, Our Mother Messenger of the Rain. Nuariwame is shown as a blue-headed serpent (lower right-hand corner, being suckled by Utuanaca (the face with white eyes, above). Flame-shaped extensions project from Utuanaca's head: they are her voice, since "her thoughts radiate like flames."

At birth, Nuariwame was weak, and her parents did not know what would become of her. They scolded her, saying ''you are like a serpent, you don't do anything; we no longer want you," Tuamuxawi said: "Let's throw. her over there." Utuanaca wasted many necklaces and offerings (which are seen below her chin), paying shamans to come and cure her daughter; but she did not get better, and they became weary after so many efforts.

Nuariwame decided later to run away; she is the serpent seen escaping through the roof of the xiriki (the shrine on the right). She slipped between the rocks and flowers and a road opened toward the water hole of the east: Tatei Matinieri, Our Mother who watches over us (upper middle). Wherever she went lagoons and ponds formed. She appears as the face of a deer on the upper right, pondering what to do to transform herself into a bull, a snake, a cloud (along the upper margin). At this point her brother Xikuacame, squash child, stopped her and asked her to come back home. Still in the form of a cloud, she promised him that she would: "Go back and tell Utuanaca and Tuamuxawi that they should stand in the road that leads to the house and they will see me, then I shall return." Xikuacame is shown on the road to his house; he is a triplex being, since he represents three species of squash. His ears are like the leaves of the squash plant.

Her parents waited (to the lower right of the nierika) and she returned as a storm that destroyed their house. She said: "My mother complained because of all the necklaces that she had to pay for me, for all the money that she lost on account of me. All right, I am going to give it all back." She gave it back in the form of hail (black dots in an inverted bowl, next to the black line of thunder that issues from the horns of Maxayuave). This is the sacrifice of Maxayuave.

The road by which Nuariwame returned (which connects the upper center with the word - the flame of Utuanaca) is the road taken by the children (we see them sitting on the road) who are led by the Shaman's song to Wirikuta. The children and the inverted bowls below them represent the rain whose rites they are invoking; when the children travel, the rains that fall upon the fields are invariably gentle,


The words of Tatusi Xuweri Timaiweme are everything; the panel shows how they are manifested. All the categories are balanced: the male and female Ancestors over the central disk; the western underworld and Tatei Matinieri in the eastern desert along the vertical axis. Tatusima's and Tajeimi's large nierikate, to the left and right, symbolize the equilibrium between potentiality and realization. Creative energy passes from Xuweri Timaiweme to Maxacuaxi, active heart and aspect, to Kauyumarie, who links our world with Our Ancestors; and from him to Maxayave, the physical deer whose sacrifice consecrates the ritual.

Translation and interpretation by Juan Negrín based on a tape-recorded conversation with José Benítez Sánchez.
Text ©Juan Negrín 1980 - 2024. All rights reserved.

* Serpentes, Peyote: The living equivalents of arrows and votive bowls, attributes of masculine and feminine gender, respectively.

José Benítez Sánchez

Año de creación
Materiales y técnica
Plywood, Cera de Campeche (beeswax), and wool yarn