Kauyumarie's Nierika

Kauyumarie's Nierika 1974 ~ José Benítez Sánchez

This is Tamatsí Kauyumarie, Our Elder Brother Fawn of the Sun, with his nierika (the disk at top center) which symbolizes his overwhelming perception. By passing through the hole in the center of the nierika, he penetrated to the upper layer of the Underworld and entered the temple-body of his Elder Brother Deer-Tail, Maxa Kwaxí, thereby initiating life on earth. For this purpose, Kauyumarie designed nierikate that could reflect everything like a pool of water and also have the quality of penetrating matter, like the holes he carved through the lava stone in the infrastructure of the earth. The first are symbolized in mirrors and the latter in the holes carved in the center of round sculptures taken to the power spots of the ancestor spirits or used on the façade of their shrines.

We see how Kauyumarie functions in harmony with Our Mother Young Eagle Girl, Tatéi Werika Wimari who is the spirit of the sky embodied in the form of an eagle (at center). Her head is turned down as she listens attentively to him. She receives the words of Kauyumarie which rest on her feathers for she is their keeper. Kauyumarie is sitting on a rock (bottom right). His words travel along a thread which ends in a prayer-bowl (lower margin). The words unite in the prayer-bowl becoming tukari, life energy (represented as a white flower). These are the words that Kauyumarie entrusts to Our Eagle Mother. Thus, she is depicted with a shaman's basket (between her legs at center) within which she keeps his words. The basket is surmounted by Kauyumarie's antlers which she receives in her heart.

Our Grandfather Fire, Tatewarí, listens to Kauyumarie with the feathers on his head, he is suspended from the edge of the nierika disk (at right). Tatewarí and Kauyumarie are both linked to a takuatsi, shaman's basket (center right) and Tatewarí's words are depicted as blue and red dots on his fingertips.

Our Father Sun, Tayeu, is depicted suspended on the other side of the nierika (center left). Both he and Our Grandfather Fire reached the edge of the nierika, where they could see Kauyumarie disappear in the middle of the nierika. In the nierika, the white symbolizes the water’s foam; the black circle symbolizes Kauyumarie's vision in the darkness of night; the yellow circle symbolizes his vision in light; the pink circle symbolizes life. Kauyumarie's words are scattered in the space around the disk (yellow dots).

Our Ancestors are sustained through their kipiri (soul), with their nierika, their ‘iyari (heart-memory) and their tukari (vital energy). Our Father Sun appears linked to his alter-ego in the holyland below as Pariya, Dawn (orange figure to the left of the eagle). Kauyumarie's nierika and Our Elder Brother Deer-Tail's temple (dark brown, domed field, below, and area to the left of the eagle) are located in the holy land where the sun rises. Our Elder Brother Deer-Tail is depicted within the temple with red antlers. He is also depicted as a person (opposite the orange figure of Dawn). In the temple behind Deer-Tail is the deified figure of Our Mother of the Sea: A crane brings a calabash gourd to her in order to make a prayer-bowl. Blue Deer offers his blood (center left) to provide life to the votive bowls and corn, which is why a corn stalk nurtured by his blood rises up to meet his hind legs (lower left margin). The green path above Blue Deer is a vein of sacred water that feeds the soul. Our Father Sun's prayer bowl lies just below Our Grandfather's flames (above Blue Deer) and next to the water stream. Thus, Our Father Sun, by means of his memory which is in the bowl, and Our Grandfather Fire, through his flames/feathers, remain in agreement.

At the same time, Kauyumarie's nierika gathers the divine essence of all things, whether in the eastern sacred land of Wirikuta, in the central sacred caves of Teakata, or in the western region of Our Mother Sea. Our Ancestors gather in the nierika and Kauyumarie is in all regions: the first world of Watetiapa, the Underworld; the second world of Heriepa, the Earth; and the third world of Taheimá, the Sky. In effect, Kauyumarie's nierika embraces the whole world.

Watákame, the first cultivator of the fields (seen at top left), was also a companion of Our Ancestors. Two gourds for water hang from his neck and flowers surround him, symbolizing words that he does not master. A sheep is depicted facing Watákame, its blood was first shed to allow Kauyumarie's words to rest. The plumed arrow atop the sheep's head embodies the sacrificed lamb’s spirit as it emerges from its head. The rock upon which Kauyumarie sits is in Xapawiyemetá, where the rain first lifted into the sky. The serpent above Kauyumarie (right margin) is the rain which springs from a tree and rises into the breeze, becoming Xapawiyeme (the figure at top right), the Spirit of Rain. Xaapa, the wild fig tree, embodies rain giving life to all the Ancestor-Spirits and it nurtures Kauyumarie through its roots.

Translation and interpretation by Juan Negrín based on a tape-recorded conversation with José Benítez Sánchez.
Text and Photograph ©Juan Negrín 1972 - 2024. All rights reserved.

Year Created
Object Medium
Materials & Techniques
Plywood, Cera de Campeche (beeswas), and wool yarn