This week I will post about collections. What are collections? It is a process of gathering, accumulating, assembling, and bringing together like-wise articles of interest, such as my Feather Art. Here’s a bit of history.
Mexican Feather Art
It is well known that birds have a prominent place in Aztec mythology and Mexican history. The Mexican symbol is in itself represented by an Eagle perched on top of a cactus devouring a snake. History speaks that this was the fulfillment of the Aztec prophecy for the location of their capital on the present site of Mexico City. Quetzalcoatl, known also as the feathered serpent of the Aztec tribe, was a light-skinned deity who is said to have taught the Toltec’s their art and craft, and is still considered as the evening star that constantly watches over them. Cortés, the Spanish conqueror of Mexico speaks many a great thing of the feathered jewels of the Aztecs. The last Aztec Prince by the name of Cuauhtemoc (EAGLE THAT FALLS) brought about the final battle against the invaders, who burned his feet unsuccessfully persuading him to reveal the whereabouts of a great treasure.
Suzanne Muchnic, Times Staff Writer Los Angele Times wrote on Oct 14, 2007: Feathers have come to roost in art and ethnographic museums because many cultures have conferred great value on them. Symbolizing fertility, abundance, riches and power, they have been used as currency or tribute and have been incorporated into ceremonial attire, ritual objects and decorative arts. But the feathers themselves haven’t had a lot of respect in the modern Euro-centric art world. Latin American feather art was in great demand by the Spanish conquistadors who took spectacular examples back to Europe. As Catholicism spread in the New World, the art form was adapted to Christian subject matter, liturgical objects and ecclesiastic vestments. Many of the best pieces were given to popes, kings and noblemen who shared them with an appreciative audience. No less than French 18th century philosopher Voltaire praised Mexican craftsmanship, including featherwork, for having “the most beautiful patterns with the variety of their colors and tones.
The feather bird art requires great skill, imagination, a lot of patience and an artistic touch to recapture the glamour of the millions of exotic birds as colorful and charming as their multicolored ancestors. It is a slow process to dress up a paper pattern, starting with the tiniest feathers for the head and gradually increasing in feather size as the body is completed and finishing with the largest feathers forming the magnificent tail. The finished picture vividly recalls the dynamic color and haunting songs of the birds that lived and sang in the ancient forest of Mexico so long ago.
The hand carved cedar frames
are as traditional as the birds themselves and stands for patient work, artistic taste and a tradition as colorful as the multicolored plumes of the bird. The distinctive carved patterns are repeated in frame after frame with at least five or six different patterns and are the result of very patient and skillful hand work, which require painful manual labor. Although feathers of wild fowl are no longer used, the selection of the various qualities let you hear the haunting songs of birds in ancient forests of mysterious beauty which still hold something of that mystifying beauty.
My collection started with my mother’s purchase she made when she went to Mexico with her sister on her honeymoon in 1945. She passed it onto me after I married. Since then I collected many more and always on the lookout for others. Here’s a bit of history.
As Margaret Aspegren stated in “The Joys & Pitfalls of Collecting” I quote: “The hobbyists who gain the most from their hobby are probably not the ones who collect for profit but for the love of the item sought.” Margaret describes me perfectly. It is impossible to portray my feelings each time I see a different Mexican Feather Bird picture at a garage sale and then discover the price is only a few dollars. WOW! May the hunt continue!