Tatei Nuariwame Releases the Rain Serpents

Tatei Nuariwame Releases the Rain Serpents - José Benítez Sánchez

“Tatéi Nuariwame, Our Mother Messenger of Rains, is held at the Center of the Earth (Ixrüapa) by Our Great Grandparents (Tatutsima) who were the progenitors of the world. Nuariwame’s arms are attached by Our Great Grandparents, while we see her left hand receive a sprig of Mexican carnation flowers from Tuamuxawi, the first cultivator and male ancestor who escaped the flood that destroyed the previous world.  Tuamuxawi is behind Tacutsi Nakawé, Our Great Grandmother Hollow-Ear, who is the oracular primordial female essence of Our Mothers. The flower that Tacutsi holds in her hand was injected in her womb, giving birth to Xiráunime.”

Tatéi Nuariwame is held by two pairs of round stone disks (tepárite) that symbolize her being restrained at the center of the world. These disks represent a resting point in the center of this plane between the Underworld and the Heavens. As Nuariwame is held in place, she gives birth to Xiráunime (seen in her womb) and her hair transforms into serpents. The serpents turn into rain and mists rising into the heavens, as well as serpents turning into rivers on earth. The ocular nipples on her chest (flanking the legs of the embryo) also release their milk as rain drops in the sacred cave spots where Xiráunime was born. Her urine is released below like springs of water and river beds from the sacred home where she resides today. There she was transformed through giving birth to Xiráunime, whose body becomes like her skull and her urine turns into her skeletal rib cage.

On the other hand, Tatéi Utüanaca (the ancient Mother of the Earth, Rivers and Fish) her mother, is indicated solely by her eyes (which appear at top center, just below the picture’s edge), a mouth, and two cheeks (depicted as faces).  Tatéi Utüanaca disseminates the waters of her daughter Tatéi Nuariwame (depicted here as two rain serpents that spiral out beneath Tatéi Utüanaca’s cheeks).

The owl-like being at the very bottom and center of the yarn painting is Tatéi Yurianaka, ‘Our Mother who Survives off her own Veins’ (the Earth), within whom Xiráunime appeared seminally, before he was transferred out of the Underworld beneath the core of the earth, through an arrow shaft (the male symbol of life here depicted transpiercing Tatéi Yurianaka’s head), up towards the body of Tatéi Nuariwame, who gave birth to him while restrained at the center of the earth.  Rains emerge and flow down from the arrow’s shaft, in the form of serpents, which are like underground serpents.

In the upper right quadrant of the yarn painting appears Xapaviyemetá the region of Our Mother of South Waters (where the Great Flood ended).  Here Tatéi Xapaviyeme (Our Mother South Waters) appears as a bird to announce the Great Flood.  Below her rises the squash vine flower, xewá that is the fruit of the rains.  Behind the squash flower appear the rain clouds as embodied by Xikuákame (Squash Boy) and Tatéi Xapaviyeme.  The flame-like form above represents the Ancestors who had been frozen into rocks (the skeletons of this world).  Below the blue realm of the Flood itself (where Tuamuxawi and Tacutsi Nakawé are wading), emerge feathers and wavy lines (which depict the Flood’s eventual vaporization).

Our Mother Ocean, Tatéi Haramara, is found seated in a chair within the yarn painting’s lower right quadrant. From her feet emanates the serpent of the ocean, while her sacred spot within the ocean (a large rock island called Waxieve) is shown directly behind her seat. Her breath transforms into the shape of a serpent with legs and arms, which shows the transformation of ocean’s foam, rising from here to the highest mountain peaks, where humidity is kept (here represented as another Ancestor who has transformed into a peak). Between Tatéi Haramara and her breath appears Tamatsi Wawatsari, Our Elder Brother with Large Antlers, who is the Spirit of the Tree of Wind in the Mountains. Tatutsí Maxakuaxí, Our Great Grandfather Deer-Tail, is connected to the Ocean serpent’s tail. He holds Tatéi Nuariwame in place, for he supervised the movements of the rains at the founding of the world, giving her commands for her transformations.

In the yarn painting’s lower left quadrant, the anthropomorphic figure of Our Mother White Serpent, Tatéi Cutuxame walks down Tatéi Nuariwame’s beaded water course. She is transformed into the serpent that is the main river course in the Huichol Mountains, breaking the rocks beneath its canyons and rising out to the Pacific Ocean. Tatéi Cutuxame’s eventual expiration precedes her apotheosis as Tatéi Hautsi Kupuri, Our Mother Dew Soul, who rises above in the form of a serpent, releasing water from her skirt. Tatéi Hautsi Kupuri goes to the North (Utata) where she becomes the Mother of Northern Rains. Here she is flanked on the left by Tsacaimuka (Father of the Setting Sun) and to the right by Tamatsi Paritsika (Our Elder Brother Master of the Hunt). Attached to the margin below Tsacaimuka is his sacred spot; while the blue area below corresponds to the nearby sacred waterhole of Tatéi Kiewimuka (Our Mother of Western Rains). The zigzag figure at the bottom left hand corner symbolizes the lightning of Xiráunime. In brief, as the rains spring from her head, lightning will be discharged from her chest in the form of Xiráunime.

In the slanting red area above are the Tamatsima (those who are like Our Elder Brothers) shown plunging into the Eastern waterhole named Tatéi Matinieri. They baptize themselves, assume their sacred names and transform into two deer, which appear above them in the Eastern holy land of Wírikuta. Here, they receive spiritual life (yellow flowers) and hear the words of the Ancestors in the wind (line connecting water holes at upper margin).

The winged insects circling the large central left prayer bowl are Tatéi Nuariwame’s insect messengers which announce the coming of the rains. They are still connected here with the pulse of her ankles and her wrists so they are not being dispersed on earth yet.

General Observations: There are four sets of nierikate (metaphysical reflection spots), in pairs simultaneously directed to the East and to the West, to the Heaven and to the Underworld, to life and death. At the bottom flanking Yurianaka, Our Mother who Survives off her own Veins, are two small nierikate located beneath the surface of the earth. These are carved from lava stone and called tepárite (represented as a pair of circles with serrated circumferences). Memory (iyari) is poured into this world through the tepárite that are (represented as the higher central pair of serrated disks) attached to her neck and it is kept in the large gourd bowls (attached to her belly). At the very top of the yarn painting, nierikate, in the form of faces appear as the cheeks of Tatéi Utüanaca, Our Mother of the Earth and the Rivers.

Explanation based on a tape recorded conversation with the artist.
Translation and Interpretation ©Juan Negrín 1980 - 2018

José Benítez Sánchez

Create Date: 
Object Medium: 
Materials & Techniques: 
Wool yarn pressed into pure beeswax spread on plywood with wood frame